The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has compiled its ‘naughty list’ of the top 12 scams of Christmas, according to a news release from the organization.
You can avoid most of these scams, however, by exercising caution.
Be careful when shopping or donating during this holiday season and keep an eye out for schemes that are trying to swipe your cash or steal your personal information, the BBB advises. If you are asked to make a payment or donation by wire transfer, through a third party or by a prepaid debit or gift card, regard that as a red flag and refuse to do so.
Be wary of misleading social media ads. Online purchase scams are the most common cons reported to BBB’s Scam Tracker.
Avoid social media gift exchanges. This scam aims to collect your personal information. Stick to buying your friends gifts from trustworthy businesses.
Be careful with holiday apps: There are dozens of holiday-themed apps that allow children to video chat live with Santa, light the menorah, track Santa’s sleigh and so on. Be sure to review privacy policies to be aware of what information will be collected and also be aware that some of these apps may contain malware.
Watch out for fake texts that say you’ve been hacked. BBB receives tons of reports on Scam Tracker about fake texts and emails, many of them claiming your Amazon, Paypal, Netflix or bank account has been compromised. Be extra cautious about unsolicited calls, emails and texts; contact the business directly and don’t click on any links.
Be wary of free gift cards. Scammers have been known to take advantage of our weakness for ‘free things’ by sending bulk phishing emails requesting personal information to receive free gift cards. In some of these emails, scammers impersonate legitimate companies and promise gift cards to reward their loyal customers. They may also use pop-up ads or send text messages with links saying you were randomly selected as the winner of a prize. Mark these emails as spam or junk. If you did open 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. Job seekers need to be wary of employment scams aimed at stealing money and personal information from job applicants. Watch out for opportunities that seem too good to be true.
Look-alike websites: 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, go directly to the official website.
Fake charities: Keep a look out for fraudulent charities and scammers pretending to be individuals in need. Avoid impromptu donation decisions to unfamiliar organizations. Where possible, donate to the charity through their website and use a credit card.
Fake shipping notifications: As more consumers make purchases online, there’s 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.
Advent calendars: In the past, BBB has received reports to Scam Tracker about advent calendar ads on social media not delivering as promised. Some were not received, and others received inferior products or incomplete orders. Do your research before placing an order.
Top holiday wish list items: Low-priced luxury goods, jewelry, designer clothing, and electronics are almost always cheap counterfeits and knockoffs. The same applies to popular toys. This year, Barbie and Ken, Bitzee, and Paw Patrol headphones are some of the items in high demand. Be very cautious when considering purchasing popular toys from resellers or on social media platforms.
Puppy scams: Many families may be considering adding a furry friend to their household this year. However, be on the lookout for scams. Experts say as much as 80% of sponsored pet advertisements may be fake. Be sure to see the pet in person before making a purchase.
For general information on how to avoid scams, visit BBB.org/AvoidScams.
Published December 20, 2023