Attorney General Roy Cooper warns that January is the month when consumers should be the most aware of scams and fraud.Cooper said that fraud picks up in January because it is a time when legitimate sweepstakes award their prizes.
"They know there's a lot of hype out there for sweepstakes and contests. The scammers take advantage of consumers because many of them have often entered some of these contests and they want to win," Cooper said.
Cooper said that telephone fraud is the most popular method. He said that an example of a phone scam might sound like this call between an N.C. man and a company the state went after for telephone fraud:
"This is a legitimate contest, the German lottery drawing the you entered. And your birthday is Sept. 17, 1917. Isn't that correct?" "Yes it is."
Cooper said it is also important to check credit card bills carefully -- especially after the holidays.
"What they can do then is get hold of credit card numbers and can put unauthorized charges on a consumer's credit card. They do that during the holiday season because there's a lot of hustle and bustle, and people put a lot of charges on and they know sometimes it will go unnoticed," he said.
The elderly are still the most popular targets for fraud. Cooper said that the most popular pitch is a big prize.
"Older people tend to have discretionary income, some savings, and the scam artists know that," Cooper said.
The American Association of Retired Persons, AARP, is trying to help. It provides publications, brochures and videos to help fight fraud. Call (919) 755-9757 for more information or visit its
Anyone who may have been a target of telephone or credit card fraud is asked to contact the N.C. Attorney General's Office at (919) 716-6000.