‘Tis the season of giving, however, it is also the season where consumers should be at their most alert to avoid being a victim to holiday scams. Santa isn’t the only one keeping track of who is naughty and who is nice! Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to beware of these common holiday scams:
Look-alike websites: When shopping online, make sure to use only legitimate websites. Watch out for URLs that use the names of well-known brands along with extra words.
Fake shipping notifications: These can have attachments or links to sites that will download malware on your computer to steal your identity and your passwords. Don’t be fooled by a holiday phishing scam.
E-cards: Electronic cards can be great fun, but be careful. Two red flags to watch out for are: the sender’s name is not apparent; you are required to share additional information to get the card.
Letters from Santa: Several trusted companies offer charming and personalized letters from Santa, but scammers mimic them to get personal information from unsuspecting parents. Check with bbb.org to find out which ones are legitimate.
Grandparents scam: Be cautious if you get a call from a family member or friend claiming to be in an accident, arrested, or hospitalized while traveling in another country. Never send money unless you confirm with another family member that it’s true.
Phony charities: Everyone is in a generous mood at the holidays, so scammers take advantage of that with fake charity solicitations in email, on social media sites, and even by text. Check out charities before donating.
Temporary holiday jobs: Retailers and delivery services need extra help at the holidays, but beware of solicitations that require you to share personal information online or pay for a job lead. Apply in person or go to retailers’ main websites to find out who is hiring.
Unusual forms of payment: Be wary of anyone who asks you to pay for holiday purchases using prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers, third parties, etc. These payments cannot be traced and cannot be undone. Free gift cards: Pop-up ads or email offering free gift cards are often just a ploy to get your personal information that can later be used for identity theft.
Free gift cards: Also, beware of pop-up ads or emails offering free gift cards, and avoid discount and online auction sites, as gift cards there may be counterfeit or stolen.
Social media gift exchange: It sounds like a great deal; buy one gift and get 36 in return. But it’s just a variation on a pyramid scheme and it’s illegal
Puppy Scams: Be very careful when buying pets online, especially during the holidays. You can end up with an unhealthy puppy from a puppy mill, or nothing at all because that dog never existed and it was all a scam. Always research where you are buying the dog from and never wire any money. Be sure to pick up the puppy in person instead of paying someone to ship it.
Fake coupons: If a coupon shows up in your inbox that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Many retailers do send out coupon codes during the holidays to entice you to visit their websites. However, if the coupon seems to be for some outrageous discount, make sure to contact the sender before you click “redeem.”