BBB Warning: Watch out for scammers during Independence Day celebrations

Published 7:43 pm Tuesday, July 2, 2024

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The following is from the Better Business Bureau:

This Fourth of July marks the 248th Independence Day celebration since the ratification of the U.S. Constitution
in 1776. While American society has changed drastically over the centuries, Independence Day is an excellent
opportunity for individuals and businesses to reflect on their history and celebrate the future. However, as is
typical during every holiday, it is crucial to remain aware of scammers looking to use Independence Day
festivities to con people out of their money.
Independence Day scams typically take form in one of the following ways:
Travel and rental scams. Some families take the Fourth of July holiday as an opportunity to travel to cities
hosting Independence Day parades, celebrations, or firework displays. Unfortunately, after spending the time
and resources to travel to the city, some travelers find that they cannot enter the rental they paid for or
communicate with the property owner.
One consumer reported to BBB Scam Tracker that they could not get into their rented home or communicate
with the owner after driving three hours to attend a Fourth of July celebration.
“After learning we couldn’t get into the rental, we drove to the local office for [the rental agency] and they were
closed,” the consumer reported. “A woman who worked nearby said we were the third family that week to show
up looking for someone to talk about their rental and that she has never seen the office open. We drove all the
way out to the coast and didn’t have anywhere to stay. As you can imagine, everything was booked for the
Fourth of July. All the hotels were full.”
Flag-buying scams. Around the Fourth of July, many people turn to online marketplaces to purchase patriotic
flags to display in their yards. An increase in online shopping for a particular product increases scammers seeking
to capitalize on the demand, often advertising prices far below the going rate. Trust in your intuition and be wary
of deals that seem too good to be true.
Firework purchasing scams. For those who live in an area where they can launch fireworks on their own, many
turn to temporary firework stands to purchase their supplies. While most of these stands are legitimate
businesses, some use the opportunity to obtain banking card information when purchasing.
BBB recommends paying for fireworks at temporary firework stands with cash to avoid scammers copying credit
or debit card information. If cash is not readily available, use a credit card that provides additional protections to
dispute charges. Be sure to get a receipt and write down the location of the firework stand and the company it
Phishing scams. During patriotic holidays, such as Independence Day, Memorial Day, or Veteran’s Day, it is
common for scammers to use patriotic messaging in email or text to entice a consumer to click on a link or
submit personal information. Often, they will disguise themselves as a military-focused charity or advocacy group
to convince a consumer to donate to their cause. BBB strongly recommends checking on to verify the
legitimacy of a charity before donating to the stated cause or submitting your personal information.
Do not click on links if you receive an unsolicited email or text message from an organization. Malicious links will
download malware onto your computer, tablet, phone or any other electronic device you are using at the time,
allowing cyber thieves to steal your identity.