The BBB’s 12 scams of Christmas

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 6:12 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Economic experts predict a robust holiday season as there’s a bentup desire to experience Christmas without COVID. Consumers will no doubt use the Internet.

The Better Business Bureau says so will scammers.

“If there is something on the internet you can spend money on, there is a scammer right there ready to take their slice,” says Britt Clark with the Better Business Bureau

Clark says be aware of the most common scams on emails and social media.

The first, misleading social media ads. They often appear on the same pages you and your friends use to show special events or activities.

“A lot of times they don’t have a working customer service number,” says Clark. “Which is one of the big red flags. So if you want to buy, make sure there is a customer service number so that case you are so much likely to be working a legitimate company where you can get your money back, in case something goes wrong,” she says.

Clark says the classic “pyramid scheme” has moved to the holidays as well, with social media gift exchanges--buy one gift or send money, there’s a promise of ten gifts or ten times the cash amount back. Don’t buy it.

Holiday Apps need to be watched as well. Children may want to talk to Santa or watch reindeer on their devices. However, bogus sites may ask for personal information that can be used to steal identity. Or a fee may be charged for minimal content. Be wary of free apps in this category.

Notices can appear in an email over the holidays indicating an account has been compromised. It will ask for an immediate response. But this too is another way to steal identity.

“Of course this is the way scammers get your password,” says Clark. “Which will take you to a second site, It will look like the regular one, you will put in your user name, and they will go place orders with your account,” she says.

A free gift card may be in the offing in email. They may even be from familiar companies—or so it is assumed. If the offer is unsolicited don’t open it. If it’s too late, don’t click on any links

Holiday jobs are ideal for many people. But the Better Business Bureau says with all the information required to apply for such jobs, make sure the business and offer are legitimate. It’s just another way to gain access to personal data and if the job opportunity is too good to be true, it probably is.

She says consumers need to be aware of lookalike websites. They may appear to be a national corporation, but a little examination may be able to steer you in the right direction.

“You have to make sure when you check the URL that it says Amazon dot com, not Amazon dot com net or something like that where it doesn’t quite fit right,” says Clark. “It can look exactly the same. They are very tricky,” she says of scammers.

It’s estimated 40% of charities receive donations over the holidays, why wouldn’t scammers want a piece of that action?

Beware of impromptu donation decisions, and verify the charity through the BBB’s give-dot org.

If a shipping notification appears in an email asking for personal information or cash before the item can be picked up or delivered, Clark says be advised this is another way to gain access to your identity, or separate you from your money.

“If you can get tracking information and send that to your friends, that is the best way to alerting them to be expecting a package,” she advises.

Pop up holiday events are designed to give exposure to craft fairs or other holiday activities without physically being there. Problem is there may be a fee attached to it, and the event may not what is advertised.

As we get closer to Christmas anxiety heightens. It leaves consumers looking for the one of a kind item or designer bag, or hot Christmas toy. Clark says be weary of websites which offer those items--sometimes at a discounted price. Chances are those items will not be as described.

Looking for a holiday puppy? Clark says stay away from websites which offer furry friends, sometimes purebred just in time for Christmas. Costs start to escalate as vet checks, shipping, and other expenses are demanded.

In truth there is no family pet.

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