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Avoid falling victim to post-holiday crime

Updated: Dec. 28, 2020 at 4:34 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The calendar may be creeping toward January, but there are still those out there who are looking to take advantage of the holiday season by stealing gifts and money from the unsuspecting.

“No matter when we are on the calendar, post Christmas, there’s always going to be somebody who uses that moment to try to take your money,” said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein.

In the days after the holidays, there are a few primary targets—and ways to keep your stuff and your wallet secure.

A well-known tip when it comes to cleaning up after the holidays is to avoid placing containers that once held expensive gifts by the trash or recycling bin for all to see.

Law enforcement officials recommend breaking down large boxes into pieces so they fit inside the bin or a bag, especially for big-ticket items like TVs, gaming consoles, and computers.

But more than that, Stein suggests taking precautions when putting anything outside for pick up, including if you are making returns to online retailers.

“If you do have returns, and you can’t find a place to take it, just don’t leave it out on the front porch too long, because you want the delivery person to pick it up, not the thief,” Stein said.

He said this form of porch-pirating is even more common than break-ins related to holiday gifts.

Those looking to take advantage of post-holiday sales or to buy themselves something they didn’t get need to be on the lookout for potential scams, Stein said, because unscrupulous online actors may advertise items that are too good to be true, especially for hard-to-find items.

“If you never got that [Playstation]-5, and you want to go searching online, just understand that because someone’s got a picture there doesn’t mean that it’s real,” he said. “Always maintain your suspicion.”

And those participating in consumerism aren’t the only ones facing risks, Stein said, because bad actors also target those looking to be generous.

“This really is one of the leading times of the year for people to give generously to their neighbors in need, and unfortunately, there are a lot of people who are in need,” he said, noting that the coronavirus pandemic has made things even harder.

He suggested only giving to charities you know, and being suspicious of websites for causes you are unfamiliar with.

“Just make sure that when you give, your money goes to the purpose you want it to and not to line some crooks’ pockets.”

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