Even though Easter is a time to reflect on the ideals of love and self-sacrifice, sadly, con-artists are using it as a tool to rip people off.
Most scammers are just up to their normal tricks, but gear them towards the Easter Holiday. The most common are the various phishing emails, but scammers include the words "Happy Easter" in the greeting. Thus the victim thinks they are getting a holiday "wish you well" and find their computer infected with a virus.
Consumers should also be aware of sub-par second hand stores selling outdated candy. Consumers watch groups have reported candy as old as five years being sold. The candy could make children seriously ill. It is not worth it to save a buck.
Cheaply made toys are also prevalent at discount shops. As foreign manufacturers are seldom subject to U.S. safety regulations, the plastic Easter toys could contain lead-based paint or sharp edges that could harm children.
Many families purchase animals such as bunnies or chicks during the holiday. Believe it or not, scammers are also using this fact to post fake animal ads on the web. Be sure to buy live animals from a reputable local dealer.
Charity scams are also on the rise during the holiday. Fake charity scams make every attempt to look real. They may choose a name similar to a legitimate charity's name, or create a fake ID in the name of an actual charity, complete with a copy of the logo.
These scam artists may use standard methods to collect 'donations' for their charity scams like setting up a table at a local mall or on the street, knocking on your door or making an e-mail or telephone request.
Find out what the charity will do with the money. Find out how much of your money will actually be used for charitable programs. Ask charities to send you printed material by regular mail. If the material does not contain details on how the money will be used, do not contribute to the charity. Ask questions. Get the name, address, and phone number of the charity and check them out before giving and try to avoid giving cash.
Because many families travel or take a mini vacation due to the long weekend, travel scams involving fake rentals are also prevalent this time of year.
In the typical scenario consumers receive a letter or postcard promising them free roundtrip airline tickets in exchange for attending a sales presentation about travel club membership.
After attending the presentation, usually at a local hotel, consumers discover that they have to pay money in order to receive the "free" airline tickets. Consumers also claim that these travel companies employ high-pressure sales tactics and deceptive means to coerce them into buying travel memberships that generally cost several thousand dollars.
The company promises huge travel discounts as a benefit of membership, but consumers soon discover that these discounts are non-existent or equivalent to the rates consumers can get themselves on well-known Internet travel sites. When consumers try to cancel their memberships and receive refunds their requests are usually refused.
The Daily Journal has made a commitment to keep readers abreast of scams that hit our area. If someone tries to make you the victim of a scam, submit details at http://www.dailyjournalonline.com/connect (click on the Scam logo) or call us at 431-2010 and tell us what happened.
We will try to include your story in our scam alert series to prepare others who may find themselves in the same situation. The Daily Journal will run Scam Alert stories in the Weekend paper.