BBB Warns Shoppers of the 12 Scams of Christmas

Shoppers walking on downtown Naperville sidewalk.
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As the holidays draw near, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is offering tips on how to steer clear of scams targeted at shoppers. They’ve neatly wrapped up the information in a 12 Scams of Christmas list.

Look out for misleading social media ads.

Advertisements often pop up within a news feed, but not all are for companies or products that are legit. If unsure, consumers can check out the business profile on the Better Business Bureau website.

Beware of social media gift exchange posts.

Some request exchanging bottles of wine, others ask to send a gift of money to strangers and pay it forward, and yet others involve a “Secret Santa Dog,” encouraging people to buy a $10 for their “secret dog. What they all have in common is their status as an illegal pyramid scheme. It’s also a way for scammers to get personal information from participants.

Be wary of any holiday-themed apps.

Though they may look cute, sites with special Santa offers or reindeer games and the like can sometimes be scams. Make sure to carefully read the privacy policies. Sites that may offer to send Santa your wish list for example could be collecting personal data. And apps that are free sometimes either contain malware, or have more time-consuming ads than another similar site which charges a fee.

Be cautious about alerts of compromised accounts.

Emails saying your Amazon, Paypal, Netflix or bank account have been compromised have been reported through the BBB Scam Tracker.

Don’t send personal information for “FREE” gift cards.

Scammers like to impersonate a company, then tell people they can get a free gift card if they send private information. Or, they may send a pop-up saying you’ve received a prize. Don’t click either the pop-up, or any links within this type of email.

Make sure temporary holiday jobs are legit.

Scammers sometimes create false job opportunities to try and steal money and personal information from job applicants. Make sure any position you are applying for is on the level, and avoid any that look too good to be true.

Watch out for emails with lookalike websites.

Scammers take advantage of the many emails shopper receive during the season, sending their own emails which look like popular companies, and encouraging those who open them to click on links. These can launch malware, or send consumers to a bogus site where their money and personal information may be collected.

Only give to reputable, known charities.

It’s the season of giving and that spurs many scams. Organizations can be verified through BBB’s site.

Beware of fake shipping notifications.

As consumers get more shipping notifications sent their way during the holiday season, scammers like to take advantage, sending phishing emails with enclosed links that steal personal information. Those can also sometimes launch malware.

Be wary of online pop-up holiday virtual events.

Scammers sometimes create fake event pages where they purport that a free event actually has a charge, in an effort to get credit card information. Always verify any payment requirements with an event organizer if unsure.

Look out for knock-off sales of top holiday items.

Popular toys and some luxury items may be advertised from resellers on platforms like Facebook Marketplace. Often their items are merely cheap knock-offs. Be cautious about who you do your buying from.

Beware puppy scams.

As families consider purchasing pets this holiday season, they need to look out for potential scams. It’s estimated that 80% of sponsored pet advertisements may be fake. Don’t buy a pet unless you’ve seen it in person.

You can find more information about avoiding scams on the BBB website.

NCTV17’s Kim Pirc reports.

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