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         November 27, 2000

Legislator Gonsalves Warns: Beware Holiday Scams

"Although scams and frauds are always with us, they increase during this time of year. The following tips involve specific scams that are especially prevalent during the holiday season. I urge consumers to carefully review the following tips to avoid becoming a victim of a scam artist," said County Legislator Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow).

Be On The Lookout For Counterfeit Merchandise
If the price of brand name watches, clothes or electronic items seems "too good to be true" the items could be counterfeit. Brand names can be easily engraved or sewn on a product. To avoid this problem, stay away from street and roadside vendors. Deal with reputable, established stores.

Don't Become The Victim Of A Charity Fraud
Just because you believe in the cause doesn't mean the organization is legitimate. For example, helping needy children is a noble aim, but make sure your money is really going to this. Before giving a donation, check that the organization is legitimate.

Watch Out For Bait And Switch Tactics
With this scheme, merchandise is advertised at a ridiculously low price as the bait to lure you to the store. Once there, the salesperson disparages the sales product or tells you they are temporarily out of stock and then tries to switch you to a more expensive item.

Be Careful With Your Credit Card
With an increase in holiday crowds comes an increase in holiday pickpockets. Carry your cards in an inside, not outside pocket. Keep a record of your card numbers, their expiration dates, and phone number and addresses of each issuing company in a safe place. If your cards are stolen call the issuers immediately. By law, you are not responsible for any unauthorized charges from the time you report the loss. The most you can be held accountable for if the cards are used before you report their loss is $50 per card.

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