RALEIGH, N.C. — Attorney General Roy Cooper on Monday urged North Carolinians to watch out for fraudulent businesses and charities that might attempt to profit from worries about war and threats to homeland security.
"As terrible as it is, some scammers might use concerns about U.S. soldiers serving overseas and our safety here at home to trick consumers out of their money," warned Cooper. "Consumers need to keep a vigilant eye out for these shameless scammers."
Although Cooper's office has not yet received reports of war-related scams since the start of the current conflict, scammers were active during the last Persian Gulf War and in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Cooper warned consumers to be on the lookout for the following types of scams:
Charitable solicitations-- Telemarketing fraud artists often take advantage of world events, such as wars or natural disasters, to make their phony pleas for charitable donations sound more plausible. Check out a charity before you donate and never give out your credit card, bank account or Social Security number to an unknown telemarketer.
Investment scams-- Changes in world oil prices may spur bogus oil investment opportunities. Make sure an offer is reputable before you invest. Also, be skeptical of any scheme that sounds too good to be true.
Homeland preparedness scams-- Companies may try to profit off fears of terrorist attacks against Americans to push products like anthrax tests or home decontamination kits. Make sure the company and its products are legitimate before you buy. Consult the American Red Cross or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for tips on how to protect your family in case of an emergency.
Scams against military families-- Military spouses need to be especially careful while their husband or wife is away on active duty, as scammers may try to profit from any change in a family's financial circumstances with promises of easy credit or "special" deals on major purchases.
"The overwhelming majority of businesses operating in our state are legitimate and treat their customers ethically," Cooper said. "Unfortunately, there are a few that may try to take advantage of what is a difficult time for the many North Carolinians who have friends and family serving in harm's way. Don't let scammers win your confidence and your hard-earned money."
Consumers can report a possible scam or check up on a business or charity by contacting the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's Office at