Top 8 consumer fraud complaints: How to avoid getting scammed

From internet scams to unauthorized transactions, scammers are taking advantage of these difficult times to mislead and deceive consumers, according to New York’s Attorney General Letitia James. 
Consumers need to be on the lookout and keep their guard up against fraud.
Below are some of the top consumer complaints and tips on how to avoid these scams:

INTERNET-RELATED

These include: Internet services and service providers, data privacy and security, digital media, data breaches, and frauds through internet manipulation.
Below are tips to avoid some of these scams:
Do you constantly reuse the same username and password? Cybercriminals could attempt to log in to online accounts using login credentials stolen from other online services. If you're looking to safeguard your online accounts HERE ARE SOME STEPS TO FOLLOW.
Phishing is a form of internet fraud that aims to steal personal information such as credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, user IDs and passwords. These schemes can also trick the recipient into installing malicious software onto a computer or mobile device. HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO KEEP YOU SAFE.
Online shopping scams are on the rise. Scammers create slick-looking websites pretending to sell items on high demand. To lure you onto the sites, scammers pay for ads on Facebook, Google and other websites. The best way to not get scammed is to be aware of the tactics and know what to look for. HERE ARE SOME TIPS.
If you have been impacted by a data breach. HERE ARE SOME STEPS you can take to protect your identity. 
Check your online accounts regularly for unauthorized transactions and immediately contact your online service (or credit card company, if appropriate) if you see something suspicious.

LANDLORD/TENANT DISPUTES

These include: Security deposit releases, tenant-harassment.
Below are some tips: 
Your landlord must return your security deposit within 14 days of you moving out. If your landlord takes any money out of the security deposit for damages, they must provide an itemized receipt describing the damage and its cost. If your landlord doesn’t give you this receipt within 14 days of moving out, then they must return your entire security deposit, whether there is damage or not. If your landlord fails to comply, you may be entitled to up to twice the amount of the security deposit.
If you are having trouble paying your rent, please contact your department of social services. Check the links below:
New York City residents can call 311 and ask about rental assistance programs. More resources are available HERE.

RETAIL SALES

These include: Price gouging, defective merchandise, poor customer service, pet stores, and animal breeders.
If you see excessive prices for gas or other goods vital and necessary for health, safety, and welfare, authorities ask that you report it immediately. HERE’S HOW TO REPORT price gouging in your state.
Free COVID-19 testing kits are available from the U.S. Government at www.covidtests.gov. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a warning to consumers about fake at-home COVID-19 testing kits. And HERE are tips to avoid COVID-19-related scams.

CONSUMER RELATED SERVICES

These include: COVID-19 testing facilities, alarm companies, dry cleaners, restaurants, movers, services for personal household use.
Scammers are using telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits to perpetrate COVID-19-related scams, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. HERE are some things consumers should know to avoid fraud. 
COVID-19 testing facilities that advertise test-result turnaround times are required to accurately convey how long it will take for consumers to receive their test results. Any consumer who believes a lab or other testing facility is making misleading statements about their turnaround time for test results should report it to their state’s attorney general’s office. 

AUTOMOBILE

These include: Sales, service, financing, repairs.
Beware of deceptive sales tactics when purchasing or leasing a car. New and used automobile prices keep climbing, due to factors such as high demand and a global semiconductor shortage, which are a critical component of new automobiles. Never sign any documents or leave the dealership with a car until you have reviewed all of your paperwork carefully. Do not sign a blank document that does not have numbers or terms filled in.
Make sure that what you are signing is consistent with what the salesperson told you and that you are not being charged for any extra accessories or products that you did not ask for, such as warranties, tire and wheel protection, and vin etching. Ask the salesperson or finance manager about any fees or charges you do not understand and whether they are required by law.
If you're shopping for a used car, pay special attention to make sure you don't buy a flood-damaged vehicle. Water damage can be hard to detect in vehicles. HERE ARE SOME telltale signs of flood damage.

CREDIT

These include: Debt collection, credit card billing, debt settlement and debt relief, payday loans, credit repair, credit reporting agencies, identity theft.
Consumers facing debt collection now have added protections under federal and state law. 
New nationwide rules adopted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), that took effect in 2021, limit how and when debt collectors are allowed to contact consumers. CLICK HERE to learn your rights. 
When shopping online, only shop on secure websites. Use familiar websites, or research and read reviews of new ones, and check that the website starts with https (not just http - the “s” stands for secure) or has a padlock icon. Protect your identity and money by following THESE RULES.
Scammers often use incidents of crisis to perpetuate frauds and divert donations away from the intended recipients. Avoid being scammed with THESE TIPS.

UTILITIES

These include: Wireless and residential phones, energy servicers and suppliers, cable, and satellite.
Do you need assistance paying your utility bills? HERE are resources for energy assistance in your state.
Scammers are using new tactics to get money from utility company customers. HERE are the signs you should look for. 
If you're annoyed by robocalls, you're not alone. Federal regulators reported a 25% increase in complaints in 2021. THESE TOOLS can help you stop the unwanted calls.

HOME REPAIR/IMPROVEMENT

These include: Repair issues, deceitful contractors.
Before entering into a contract, shop around for estimates, check in with the Better Business Bureau, suppliers and neighbors for references.
Know your rights: You have three days after signing a home improvement contract to cancel it.