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Attorney General Long Cautions Consumers about Online Ads

Attorney General Long Cautions Consumers about Online Ads 

PIERRE, S.D.-    Attorney General Larry Long is reminding consumers to use caution when answering and placing ads online using websites such as Craigslist.  The Consumer Protection Division has received complaints from victims who have been victimized by fraudulent ads for such things as real estate, home rentals and vehicle purchases.

“Only deal with people you can meet in person,” suggests Long.  “Business dealings should be done with people in your own local area. Don't do business with folks who live far away.”

Long’s office suggests consumers follow some simple guidelines to protect themselves from online scammers.

  1. Never send money upfront for any offer, especially to an out of country address.  Once consumers separate themselves from their money, it is difficult, if not impossible, to recover. 
  2. Deal locally with individuals you can meet in person. 
  3. Beware:  fake cashier's checks and money orders are common tools of scammers.  If consumers cash fraudulent checks at their financial institution, the consumer is held responsible, not the bank or credit union. 
  4. Keep personal information safe.  Never share it with someone you do not know and trust.  This information includes:  bank account and credit card numbers; Social Security numbers; name; address; phone number; etc. 
  5. NEVER WIRE FUNDS VIA WESTERN UNION, MONEY GRAM or any other wire service. Anyone who asks you to do so is most likely a scammer. It is almost impossible to recover your money once you sent it. 

Consumers can learn to recognize scams by following a few simple guidelines.  

  • Watch for misspellings and bad grammar in all ads.
  • Be wary of the refusal to meet face-to-face prior to the completion of the transaction. 
  • Watch for inquires from someone far way, often in another state or country.

If you have been a victim of this scam or would like additional information contact the South Dakota Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-300-1986 or consumerhelp@state.sd.us.  

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