This Fourth of July marks the 245th Independence Day celebration since the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1776. While American society has changed drastically in the two-and-a-half centuries since then, the holiday is an opportunity for individuals and businesses to reflect on their history and celebrate the future. However, as is typical during every holiday, it is crucial to remain aware of scammers looking to use Independence Day festivities to con people out of their money.
Independence Day scams typically take form in one of the following ways:
Flag-buying scams. Around the Fourth of July, many people turn to the Internet to purchase patriotic-themed flags to display in their yard. An increase in online shopping for a particular product brings an increase in scammers seeking to capitalize on the demand, often advertising prices for the product far below the going rate.
One Texas resident reported to BBB Scam Tracker that they received an email from a company advertising a free American flag and hat; all he needed to do was pay shipping costs. Unfortunately, after paying the company the requested shipping price, neither product has been received, and all communication efforts have gone unanswered.
Remember, if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Firework purchasing scams. For those who live in an area where they can launch fireworks on their own, many turn to temporary firework stands to purchase their supplies. While most of these stands are legitimate businesses, some use the opportunity to obtain banking card information when the purchase is made.
In general, BBB recommends paying for fireworks at temporary firework stands with cash to avoid scammers from copying banking card information. If cash is not readily available, use a credit card that provides additional protection from fraudulent purchases if your card information is stolen. Be sure to get a receipt and write down the location of the firework stand and the company it represents.
Firework show admission ticket scams. A holiday-specific ticket scam, this con has all the trademarks of any other ticket scam, tailored for ticketed firework shows in your area. As pandemic restrictions ease and the rate of events increases, so do scammers looking to take advantage of consumers seeking tickets.
Be sure to pay close attention to the name of the firework show and that it exactly matches the ticket. This is especially important during holiday events where multiple shows around the country may have very similar names. When possible, always attempt to buy tickets directly from the venue hosting the event and, if in doubt of the authenticity of a ticket, present it to the customer service desk of the venue to verify its legitimacy.
Phishing scams. During patriotic holidays, such as Independence Day or Veteran’s Day, it is common for scammers to use patriotic messaging in email or text to entice a consumer to click on a link or submit personal information. Often, they will use the guise of a military-centric charity or advocacy group to convince a consumer to donate to their cause. BBB strongly recommends checking on Give.org to verify the legitimacy of a charity before donating to the stated cause or submitting your personal information.
If you receive an unsolicited email or text message from an organization, do not click on any links. Malicious links will download malware onto your computer, tablet, phone or any other electronic device you are using at the time, allowing cyberthieves to steal your identity. Visit FTC.gov for more information about phishing scams and how to protect yourself from falling victim.
To view BBB’s “10 Steps to Avoid Scams” visit BBB.org/AvoidScams.
If you have been a victim of a scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Information provided could prevent another person from falling victim.