I-TEAM: Cashing in on the eclipse, how to avoid scams and frauds

Central Texas prepares for Solar Eclipse 2024 event
Central Texas prepares for Solar Eclipse 2024 event(KWTX)
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 8:24 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — With just seven months until a once-in-a-lifetime celestial event, Northeast Arkansas is gearing up for an influx of visitors eager to witness the April Total Eclipse.

The anticipation surrounding this extraordinary phenomenon is palpable, but it also brings with it the potential for scams and fraud.

The last total solar eclipse in the United States occurred in 2017, but a new path of totality will bring a few precious minutes of darkness to Northeast Arkansas.

“We got a lot of people coming here. A whole lot of people,” Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin said.

While Griffin eagerly awaits this celestial event, he’s also keeping a vigilant eye on the situation, concerned about potential scams. Griffin acknowledges that scammers thrive in crowded places where demand is high and people are in need of specific items.

“Scammers always love to run to crowds where they know a lot of people will be, where people will need certain items, and when they know a lot of people will not buy them early,” warns Griffin.

To protect yourself, Griffin advises Arkansans to prepare in advance. Stock up on essentials and, if traveling, understand your rights.

“Fill up with gas. Get some fundamentals from the grocery store, the foods you would normally stock up. Get that ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about it,” recommends Griffin.

Increased demand during the eclipse may lead to higher prices, a result of market forces, and that’s not necessarily price gouging.

“Prices could fluctuate and go up because of market forces. You have increased demand and a steady supply, and that means that prices are going to go up,” explains Griffin.

Griffin points out that price gouging only occurs during a declared emergency, such as a natural disaster when prices are unjustifiably raised.

“Just because things cost more does not mean it is price gouging,” he clarifies.

If you’ve already booked accommodation, your reserved rate is likely protected, but it’s essential to be aware of your hotel’s policies.

Cara Carlin, Director of Communications for the Better Business Bureau, underscores the importance of awareness in protecting yourself from scams.

“Look in your terms and see if the hotel does have the right to change those prices,” advises Carlin.

She also recommends trusting your instincts when evaluating new events or offers surrounding the eclipse.

“Always trust your gut. So, if you see a new event surrounding the eclipse, it looks interesting to you, do your research, check the website, see if it has been something that has been substantiated for some time or something that has just popped up,” says Carlin.

As the countdown to the April Total Eclipse continues, remember that with the right precautions, you can fully enjoy this awe-inspiring celestial event without the worry of scams and fraud dampening the experience.

For any concerns or suspicions related to scams or fraud, do not hesitate to contact Attorney General Tim Griffin or the Better Business Bureau.