To protect the health and safety of the public and our employees, the Department of Banking has limited the number of employees at our office at 260 Constitution Plaza in Hartford. When contacting the Department, please use electronic communication whenever possible. Consumers are encouraged to use our online form for complaints. If you are unsure where to send an inquiry, you may send it to Department.Banking@ct.gov and it will be routed appropriately. Thank you for your patience during this time.

November 22, 2022

Consumer Alert: Beware of Holiday Season Shopping Scams

Consumer Protection, Department of Banking remind consumers to use caution, avoid theft and fraud while shopping this holiday season

This release was issued jointly by the Department of Banking and the Department of Consumer Protection.

HARTFORD — The holiday season is upon us, and the shopping season is already in full swing.  Banking Commissioner Jorge Perez and Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull remind consumers to protect your personal information while shopping online.

“Recognize attempts to steal your information,” said Commissioner Jorge Perez.  “Scammers try to trick us by sending emails, texts, or social media advertisements that look legitimate.  Be skeptical regarding unsolicited messages you receive that ask you to provide personal information, such as your bank account number or passwords.  Remember, these scams only work if you take action and provide your personal information.  A little diligence goes a long way to protect your personal finances.”

“It is easy to get caught up in the festivities and winter shopping season, and let your guard down,” said DCP Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull. “That’s why we’re reminding consumers to remain cautious as they complete their holiday shopping. Nothing ruins holiday cheer like becoming the victim of a scam or identity theft, but these tips can help you prevent that from happening.”

Online shopping is a convenient way to purchase gifts and find items that may not be readily in stock at your local store. Unfortunately, fraudsters take advantage of the increase in online shopping this time of year and constantly look for new ways to try to trick us.  Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, provide a resource for these scam artists to lure unsuspecting consumers.

Here are a few ways to help avoid fraud and shopping scams:

  • Social Media Ads.  Be leery of buying items through ads on social media.  Many of these are “look-alike” sites that impersonate legitimate retailers.  The next time you see an ad on Facebook or Instagram, your best bet is to open a separate, secure browser and find that retailer’s website yourself. 
  • Check out the company.  Before making a purchase, type the company's name into a search engine with terms like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam”. 
  • Before you pay make sure the website uses encryption to protect your information during your transaction. Look for https at the beginning of the URL. The ‘s’ after http means the site is encrypted. 
  • Use a credit card for online purchases.  Under federal law, you may dispute unauthorized charges to your credit card in writing, and you are only responsible for unauthorized charges to $50. 
  • Check your credit card and bank statements.  If you discover any charges you did not make, contact your financial institution immediately. 
  • Review the return policy. Before you make any purchases, read the fine print on the return policy. Some stores may have short timeframes for returns that will expire before you even give the gift or charge large return shipping fees. Make sure you understand the policy prior to making a purchase. And, don’t forget to keep your gift receipts.

Peer to Peer Apps

“Peer to Peer” apps, such as PayPal, Venmo, CashApp, and Zelle, are a popular way of sending money electronically through your smart phone or device.  Users direct the app to send money from their bank or credit card account to another user’s account.  With these services it is vital to use these “peer to peer” apps only with people you know and trust.  Additionally, your rights to dispute a transaction may not be the same as those in your credit card agreement.

Additional ways to protect your personal information online:

  • Protect your computer and phone.  Make sure your security software, operating system, and Internet browser are up to date, and set for automatic updates.  Don’t forget to keep your phone updated with necessary security patches. 
  • Use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication 
  • Avoid using public networks or Wi-Fi hotspots for online shopping 
  • Privacy Settings – Check your settings and limit who can see your posts and information on social media.

To report a suspected fraud or scam, you may contact the Department of Banking’s Consumer Affairs Division, at 860-240-8170 or banking.complaints@ct.gov or file online at ct.gov/dob

If you believe you’ve fallen victim to a scam, purchased a product that was misrepresented, or have done business with someone who didn’t fulfill their contract, you may file a complaint with the Department of Consumer Protection by emailing dcp.complaints@ct.gov or file online at ct.gov/dcp.

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Media Contacts

Department of Banking
Matt Smith
Matthew.smith@ct.gov
(203) 996-1241 (cell)

Department of Consumer Protection
Kaitlyn Krasselt
kaitlyn.krasselt@ct.gov
(860) 713-6019 (office)
(860) 377-0246 (cell)