BBB warns of the ‘12 Scams of Christmas’
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The holiday season is officially here and the Better Business Bureau is warning people to be aware of scammers looking to cash in for Christmas.
The BBB released its naughty list: the “12 Scams of Christmas.”
On the BBB’s naughty list is:
- Misleading Social Media Ads: As you scroll through your social media feed, you often see items for sale from a small business. Sometimes the business even claims to support a charity to try to get you to order, or they offer a free trial. BBB Scam Tracker receives reports of people paying for items that they never receive, getting charged monthly for a free trial they never signed up for, or receiving an item that is counterfeit or much different from the one advertised.
- Social Media Gift Exchanges: Each holiday season this scheme pops back up, and this year is no different. A newer version of this scam revolves around exchanging bottles of wine; another suggests purchasing $10 gifts online. Another twist asks you to submit your email into a list where participants get to pick a name and send money to strangers to “pay it forward.”
- Holiday Apps: Apple’s App Store and Google Play list dozens of holiday-themed apps where children can video chat live with Santa, light the menorah, watch Santa feed live reindeer, track his sleigh on Christmas Eve, or relay their holiday wish lists. Be wary of free apps, as they can sometimes contain more advertising than apps that require a nominal fee. Free apps can also contain malware.
- Alerts About Compromised Accounts: BBB has been receiving reports on Scam Tracker about a con claiming your Amazon, Paypal, Netflix or bank account has been compromised. Victims receive an email, call, or text message which explains that there has been suspicious activity on one of their accounts, and it further urges them to take immediate action to prevent the account from being compromised. Be extra cautious about unsolicited calls, emails, and texts.
- Free Gift Cards: Nothing brings good cheer like the word ‘FREE’. Scammers have been known to take advantage of this weakness by sending bulk phishing emails requesting personal information to receive free gift cards. If you have received an unsolicited email with gift card offers, do not open it. Instead, mark it as Spam or Junk. However, if you opened the email, do not click on any links.
- Temporary Holiday Jobs: Retailers typically hire seasonal workers to help meet the demands of holiday shoppers. Shippers and delivery services are top holiday employers this year because of the increase in online orders and the need to get most of these packages delivered before Christmas. These jobs are a great way to make extra money, sometimes with the possibility of turning into a long-term employment opportunity. However, jobseekers need to be wary of employment scams aimed at stealing money and personal information from job applicants.
- Look-Alike Websites: The holiday season brings endless emails offering deals, sales and bargains. Be wary of emails with links enclosed. Some may lead to look-alike websites created by scammers to trick people into downloading malware, making dead-end purchases and sharing private information. If you are uncertain about the email, do not click any of the links. Instead, hover over them to see where they reroute.
- Fake Shipping Notifications: More consumers are making purchases online, there is also an increase in the number of notifications about shipping details from retailers and carriers. Scammers are using this new surge to send phishing emails with links enclosed that may allow unwanted access to your private information or download malware onto your device. They may also try to trick people into paying new shipping fees.
- Pop-Up Holiday Virtual Events: This year, many local in-person events such as pop-up holiday markets or craft fairs, have moved online. Scammers are creating fake event pages, social media posts, and emails, charging admission for what used to be a free event. The goal is to steal credit card information.
- Top Holiday Wishlist Items: Low or ridiculously priced luxury goods, jewelry, designer clothing, and electronics are almost always cheap counterfeits and knockoffs. Be very cautious when considering to purchase these high-value items from individuals through social sites.
- Puppy Scams: Many families, especially those with children, may be considering to add a furry friend to their household this year. However, you could fall victim to a pet scam, which are on the rise this year. Request to see the pet in person before making a purchase.
- Fake Charities: Typically, 40% of all charitable donations are received during the last few weeks of the year. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations had to cancel their usual fundraising events and awareness campaigns and are now inviting donors to support online. Donors are advised to lookout for fraudulent charities and scammers pretending to be individuals in need. Verify a charity at BBB’s give.org or on the Canada Revenue Agency website. Where possible, donate to the charity through their website and use a credit card.
“Giving Tuesday is coming up, so we want people to be aware of these scams, especially the fake charities,” said Monde Donaldson with the Better Business Bureau Central & South Alabama. “When giving, look at the charity’s mission, goals, financial statements and when in doubt, donate to a charity that you are familiar with. You can also go to give.org and find a registered charity to donate too. And donating online is fine, just check the URL and make sure that the site is secure.”
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