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Goshen, N.Y. – Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus and District Attorney David M. Hoovler are urging residents to remain alert for internet and social media-based shopping scams as the holiday season kicks into full gear.
Neuhaus and Hoovler noted that scams of all kinds have become more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there have been approximately 220,000 complaints about COVID-19 related scams nationwide, resulting in a loss of $157 million.
“It is frustrating and disheartening that scammers are taking advantage of the pandemic to prey upon residents, and it will not be tolerated,” Neuhaus said. “Due to COVID-19 and changes in traditions like Black Friday. Online shopping offers convenience and safety during these times, and most companies are reputable. However, it’s important be vigilant to avoid becoming a victim. If you have a question, concern or complaint, I urge you to contact our Consumer Affairs Department, the District Attorney’s Office or local law enforcement.”
District Attorney Hoovler offered the following tips for residents who shop online and correspond with companies via email during the holiday season:
“During the pandemic, scammers have taken advantage of consumers with a variety of scams,” Hoovler said. “COVID-19 created an unprecedented disruption in our lives which has caused many, particularly seniors, to use the internet in ways they are not accustomed to. Consumers should shop directly on business websites, not through links for deals or offers. If you go to a specific website, you should make sure you are directed there. You should consistently confirm that the website(s) you are using are secure.”
Consumers who have been victims of any scams should immediately report it to local law enforcement. Anyone who thinks they may be a victim of fraud can call the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Response Center at (877) 382-4357. For more information, contact the County’s Consumer Affairs Office at 845-360-6703 or District Attorney Hoovler’s Office at 845-291-2050.