As holiday shopping kicks into high gear, the Better Business Bureau is warning everyone to be careful and aware of possible scams while shopping this holiday season.
The two most common types of holiday scams are nondelivery and nonpayment, according to the FBI. In a nondelivery scam, someone pays for items but never receives them. In a nonpayment scam, the goods are sent but the seller is never paid.
To help keep you safe, the BBB has a “naughty list” with the “top 12 scams of Christmas.”
1. Misleading Social Media Ads
Items on social media may appear to be from small businesses, may claim to donate to charity, or may even charge monthly for a free trial you never signed up for. Make sure you research any company before ordering from them.
2. Social Media Gift Exchanges
A new version of this scam centers around exchanging bottles of wine or submit your email in a list for a “secret Santa”-style exchange. But these scams give people access to information about you, your friends and your family, and often trick people into buying gifts for strangers with nothing in return.
3. Holiday Apps
Be wary of downloading any new holiday apps. Always read the privacy information about what information will be collected and be careful about free apps that not only may have more advertising, but could also contain malware.
4. Alerts About Compromised Accounts
The BBB has received reports about emails, calls and text messages saying that your Amazon, PayPal, Netflix or bank account has been compromised. Always call your account provider before giving any information.
5. Free Gift Cards
Scammers will use words like “free” while impersonating legitimate companies. Often these scams appear in pop-up ads or text messages.
6. Temporary Holiday Jobs
Many stores hire seasonal workers to meet holiday shopping demands. While the jobs are an excellent way to make money, job seekers need to be wary of employment scams. Keep an eye out for any opportunity that seems too good to be true, asks for payment up front, or tries to get you to work before hiring you.
7. Look-alike Websites
When you get an email with a link inside, make sure you’re going to a legitimate website. Some may lead to look-alike websites designed to look like the real thing, but are created to get your personal information and infect your device with malware.
8. Fake Charities
According to the BBB, 40% of all charitable donations are received in the last few weeks of the year. Donors are advised to lookout for fraudulent charities or scammers pretending to be in need. Where possible, donate to a charity through a website and using a credit card.
9. Fake Shipping Notifications
As more people do their shopping online, scammers are taking advantage by sending fake details about shipping. Scammers may try to get you to pay new shipping fees or infect your device with malware by clicking links.
10. Pop-Up Holiday Virtual Events
Scammers are creating fake event pages, social media posts and emails charging admission for what would normally be free events. The goal is to steal credit card information. Call the event organizer to check whether there is an admission fee.
11. Top Holiday Wishlist Items
Very low-priced items, designer goods and electronics are often cheap counterfeits and knockoffs. Always be careful when buying items from individuals through social sites.
12. Puppy Scams
Never buy a pet without seeing it in person, and if you’re buying online, do a reverse image search of the pet to make sure it’s a real photo.
To stay safest online, the FBI recommends never to click on links or attachments you don’t recognize, and always know who you are buying from or selling to.
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