Mindful that this is the season for holiday scams, the Better Business Bureau compiled a list of the “12 scams of Christmas.”
Letters to Santa: A lot of legitimate businesses offer personalized letters from Santa, but scammers are only looking for your information. Be suspicious of unsolicited emails. Do research to verify a company offering a letter is legitimate.
Fake shipping notices: Scammers create false emails alongside the real one, just hoping you don’t notice. Make sure to check tracking numbers, read previous emails before opening and look for scammer grammar.
Temporary holiday jobs: Temporary holiday job searches are another thing scammers take advantage of. Apply for the job in person. Go directly to the retailer’s website. Never give personal information over the phone. Don’t pay for anything upfront.
Lookalike websites: Lookalike websites usually come in the form of an email alert promoting what seems like a great deal.They allow scammers to download malware onto your computers. Always make sure to review the sender’s address, look for misspellings and only enter sensitive information into a website that begins with “HTTPS.’
Unusual forms of payment: Specialty shops often target people with social media ads over the holidays. You’ll know it’s a scam when they ask you for untraditional forms of payment. Stay away from anyone asking for payment in prepaid debit cards, wire transfers or payment apps like Venmo. They often can’t be undone.
E-Cards: There are three questions to ask yourself to determine if an e-card offer is a scam: Is the sender’s name visible? Are you being asked to enter your personal information to open the card? Does this email look suspicious?
Free gift cards: Scammers hope shoppers will fall for ‘free gift card’ scams, often with pop-up ads. If you enter your personal information online it can lead to identity theft. Never open the email, as it could be a phishing attempt. Don’t share any personal information to receive the card.
Social media gift exchange: This scam is a pyramid scheme. When one person buys a gift and gets several in return, it’s illegal. Never give out personal info because it’s a ploy to steal your identity.
Puppy scams: Families that fall victim to this one are usually looking for a specific breed. Shop around, check with a few local breeders and always pay with a credit card.
Travel scams: Consumers should be wary of an offer that seems too good to be true. Be cautious about email offers, never wire money to a stranger and ask for travel references.
Grandparent scams: Scammers sometimes pose as a grandchild needing help. They will claim they have been in an accident, hospitalized or even arrested. They will then ask the grandparent for money right away. Call the family member in question. Check-in with other family members. Never wire money or send gift cards.
Phony charities: Consumers often donate to charities during the holidays. Look for sound-alike names. Verify charity at www.give.org. Review the charity donation plan.