BBB Shares Consumer Tips Ahead of Independence Day

RALEIGH, N.C. (July 2, 2024) - As we approach Independence Day, the Better Business Bureau serving Eastern Carolinas (BBB) wants you to be prepared for potential scams that could affect your celebration.

“Travel, rental and online shopping scams are always prevalent in the summer,” said Mallory Wojciechowski, president and CEO of BBB. “Being well informed on identifying fraud and scams is the best defense consumers have to keep their personal information and money safe year-round.”

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 represents.

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.

If you have been a scam victim, report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Information provided may prevent another person from falling victim.

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