Commentary: Don’t fall for these scams during the holidays

State Sen. Kevin Kelly
State Sen. Kevin Kelly

Around the holidays, during the season of giving, scams are all around us. From fake charities to bogus stories, there are some things we need to be cautious about.

The best way to avoid a scam is to stay informed and be aware of some common tricks. Remember, scams don’t just happen when your shopping online either, they come in all forms.

Scenario No .1

Your doorbell rings. At the door is someone dressed as a utility worker. He says he is from the water company and says he needs to enter your home to check for contaminants because of a motor vehicle accident that happened up the street.

What should you do?

The scenario described above is a crime of deception that has been reported in the news recently. The “utility worker” is really a would-be burglar who is trying to talk his way into your home.

The ruse is usually attempted on elderly residents. If this happens to you, you should follow these steps:

— Look for a vehicle with a logo and ask to see identification (all utility employees will have a photo ID).

— Ask the person to wait outside while you call to verify that the utility has someone at your residence. Utility employees will not be offended to stay outside while you make the call.

— If the person refuses to show ID, close the door and call the police.

The point in telling you about this is to make sure you and elderly friends, neighbors and relatives are aware of it. Stay vigilant.

If you see something that’s out of the norm, if you see somebody moving around your yard or your neighbor's yard, or strange cars in an area, it never hurts to call the police. They are happy to respond.

Scenario No. 2

Your phone rings.

The caller poses as a representative for a medical device company. He or she offers you a “medical alert system” at no cost, perhaps as a holiday special.

The scammer then asks you for money and personal information in return for the supposedly “free” equipment.

What should you do?

If the caller says he or she is from a company that claims to be one you do business with, and you are interested in the offer, independently verify the legitimacy of the caller and the offer, using telephone numbers, websites or other sources you are certain are reliable.

Do not give out your personal information in unsolicited phone calls.

If you are ever in doubt, the best strategy is to hang up the phone.

Stay vigilant

Word of mouth is so important, so tell friends, neighbors and relatives about these scams. Stay vigilant this holiday season.

To report any type of scam you come across, contact the state Department of Consumer Protection at or 800-842-2649

State Sen. Kevin Kelly represents the 21st District, which includes all of Shelton as well as parts of Monroe, Seymour and Stratford. He can be reached at 800-842-1421 or at