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Oregon Department of Justice offers some tips to keep thieves from ruining your Christmas

Of course, the Oregon Department of Justice wants you and your family to have a happy holiday, but the agency is concerned that scammers may seize the opportunity to take advantage of shoppers' desire to return to normal as the pandemic ebbs.DREAMSTIME PHOTO - The Oregon Department of Justice warns online buyers to be vigilant in their orders this Christmas season.

"Your money is hard earned," Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a release. "You want to put it to good use and not have others trick you out of it."

Rosenblum's suggestions, as the holiday buying season kicks into high gear, is to shop early, shop local and give only to charities registered with the Department of Justice.

"This year we have the added stress of shipping delays and backordered items, which gives scammers additional ways to take advantage of you – especially by tricking you into thinking they can get that package here sooner or get you that 'out of stock' or 'sold out' gift item," she said.

To that end, the DOJ has five suggestions for shoppers, and gift-givers, this holiday season.

Avoid buying items that will never arrive

There are myriad ways to make you think you're buying the perfect gift. Scammers can interrupt your searches with bogus offerings and seemingly good prices. You go to the site, put the item in your cart and click the "buy" button.

The trouble is you don't get a tracking number, the package never arrives, and the seller disappears with your money.

You've fallen victim to a "non-delivery scam."

To avoid this scenario, stick to reputable retailers and avoid merchants with whom you're unfamiliar. Shopping with a new merchant? Confirm that the merchant has a physical address, a customer service phone number and a professional-looking website.

Warning signs of scammers include poor spelling, odd design and slow loading websites. Buy only from secure sites with SSL encryption and a lock symbol at the beginning of the site's URL. Secure sites will have "https" in their URL — rather than http.

Beware of messages about an item you never ordered

This scam involves you receiving an email or other message alerting you there's an issue with an item you ordered. But you don't recognize the item and know you never ordered it. The message may be a phishing email meant to trick you into clicking a suspect link, providing your bank login credentials or turning over other private information. If you are unsure if a message is legitimate, contact the business directly — through their website, chat, or customer service phone number. Do not respond to the message unless and until you've determined it's legitimate.

Year-end donations? Do your research and only give to registered charities

There are more than 22,000 registered charities in Oregon and the DOJ's Charitable Activities Section is responsible for supervising and regulating all of them. So, before you give, check the DOJ's charity database to learn more about specific charities and to be certain they are registered with the state. You can also use this site to file an online complaint about a charity or to obtain copies of its financial records.

Be wary if solicitations for donations seem aggressive

Do your best to resist high-pressure appeals for donations. To best control your giving and spending, you should initiate contact with charities or online stores. No legitimate organization will insist that you donate immediately

Think twice about crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe

Only gifts to charities that have IRS 501(c)(3) status are tax-deductible. Gifts to individuals through GoFundMe and similar platforms are not tax-deductible and many are not refundable either. If you do want to make a tax-deductible donation, check the IRS website to ensure your gift is to a qualified organization. Make sure the charity provides a written confirmation or an emailed receipt of your donation. Then keep that for your records.

For additional tips about giving, visit the DOJ's"Wise Giving Guide."For questions or concerns about a charity or a solicitation, file a complaint online or call the Charitable Activities Section at 971-673-1880 or email them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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