The BBB released their list of top scams to watch out for this holiday season. All of these scams are likely to catch you, the consumers and donors, off guard. Don’t let these “12 Scams of Christmas” cut your holiday cheer.
1. Social Media Ads
When you are on social media, you see ads when you scroll through your feed or when going from page to page. Some of these ads are going to be scams that charge you for items you never receive or sign you up for a subscription you never intended to subscribe to. Research the company before you give out your credit card number. Know who you are dealing with before you give out any information.
2. Social Media Gift Exchange
This scheme pops up every year. A newer version of this scam revolves around exchanging bottles of wine or purchasing $10 gifts online. Another twist asks for your email where the participants will pick names and send money to strangers in need. There are a lot of variations to this scam, but what they all do is collect the personal information you shared with them unwittingly. Your personal information is used to further trick family and friends into buying gifts or sending money to unknown individuals.
3. Holiday Apps
Last Christmas there were dozens of holiday-themed apps where children could video chat with Santa, light the menorah, watch live reindeer, track Santa’s sleigh, or send wish lists. Review privacy policies to see what information is collected and possibly shared/sold.
4. Alerts About Compromised Accounts
Don’t fall for cons claiming to be Amazon, Paypal, Netflix, or your bank. Victims receive an email, call, or text which explains that there has been some suspicious activity on your account. Don’t believe these scam messages. if you are concerned about your account, don’t use the links or numbers in the messages, login to your accounts by manually entering the website.
5. Free Gift cards
Whenever you see the word “FREE” it should be raising a red flag in your head. Scammers will impersonate legitimate companies like Starbucks & Amazon and promise gift cards to loyal customers. Or they will say that you were randomly selected as a winner of a prize. Don’t fall for these claims.
6. Temporary Holiday Jobs
During the holiday season, retailers start hiring temp workers to help with the increased workload. Be cautious scams aim to steal money or personal information from job applications.
7. Look-Alike Websites
There are endless emails offering deals, sales, and bargains. They look to be from legitimate websites, but if you take a closer look, you’ll find it is not. The website may have a typo or have an extra letter or word in the web address. If you open the site, it is made to look like you are at the legitimate website, but don’t be fooled. Never click on links to a website from email, text, or from unknown websites.
8. Fake Charities
40% of all charitable donations are received during the last few weeks of the year. Donors are advised to look out for fraudulent charities and scammers pretending to be individuals in need. Avoid impromptu donation decisions to unfamiliar organizations.
9. Fake Shipping Notifications
Most of us are making purchases online. Scammers are sending more fake emails/texts about your shipments. Again it is a trick to get access to your personal information or install malware on your phone / PC.
10. Pop Up Holiday Virtual Events
Many local in-person holiday events have moved to virtual online events. Scammers are taking advantage here by creating fake event pages on social media and in emails. Again the goal is to steal your credit card information. Before paying for anything with your credit card, confirm with the organizer of the event if there are admission fees.
11. Top Holiday Wish List Items
Be cautious when purchasing any of the top hot items in demand for the holidays. There will be lots of scams with counterfeit products or not even ship anything to you. Be aware of this when purchasing through social sites or classified ads like OfferUp & Craigslist.
12. Puppy Scam
This scam is the same for any pet. A seller will be giving a pet away for free or at a very discounted price. The seller will almost always that their child passed away, that they are moving to a new job and can’t the pet, or their new home doesn’t allow pets. Once you commit to the sale, there is additional money wanted. Either there is paperwork or some delivery cost. Then they will try to convince you that if you don’t send them the money you agreed to, they will report for animal abandonment. It’s all part of the scam.