With the Sochi Olympics dominating sports news, Better Business Bureau reminds consumers to be aware of the potential for scams related to the Winter Games.
Whenever there is a large event, natural disaster or other topic dominating the airwaves, BBB often sees scams emerge. While there has been little actual news about scams so far, common ones include donation scams, fake merchandise, bogus emails and, these days, sketchy mobile apps. When the event is nearby, ticket scams also can be a problem.
Many scams won’t become obvious until after the Olympics, but a check of the auction site eBay shows 45,000 items linked to the Sochi games, many of them obviously fake or of questionable quality.
BBB offers five tips for supporting and enjoying the games safely from home:
- Hang up on Olympic employees. “Official” representatives will not call to ask for donations or offer special merchandise. Never give out credit card information, bank account numbers or Social Security numbers to unsolicited callers.
- Beware of counterfeit merchandise. The primary source for official merchandise is sochi2014.com/en. Avoid sites that offer too-good-to-be-true deals: They could be gathering data like credit cards or personal identifiers to commit identity theft. If buying merchandise in person, look for tags indicating that the merchandise is authorized by an official body, like TeamUSA or the Olympic organization.
- Be cautious of bogus emails. Large phishing campaigns using official names and logos are showing up in inboxes; never click on links or download attachments from unexpected emails.
- Don’t fall for fake news articles and press releases. With 100 countries represented in 15 different sports over two weeks, breaking news and updates will occur continuously; be skeptical of sensational headlines or announcements that encourage readers to visit foreign websites.
- Skip over sketchy mobile apps. Malicious mobile applications are on the rise. A quick search returns several “Olympics” apps. Only choose official applications and make sure that privacy settings are strict.
For more information on the American Olympic Team, visit teamusa.org.