The Better Business Bureau is warning about several common holiday scams and frauds. From malware infected e-cards to fake Santas and stolen gift cards, here's what to be on the lookout for this holiday season.
- Malware e-cards: Viruses and malware often travel in e-mail attachments or links. Don’t click on an e-mail from someone you don’t know or a name you don’t recognize. When in doubt, delete!
- Stranded grandkids: It’s the classic “grandparent scam.” If your grandchild, other relative or friend calls or e-mails to say they were robbed or hurt overseas, check before wiring money.
- Counterfeit gifts: Low prices on luxury goods are almost always cheap counterfeits. At best, you’ll look like a Scrooge. At worst, you may be helping finance drug traffickers or terrorists.
- Pickpockets: Need we say more? Keep your purse or wallet secure when shopping. Don’t get overburdened or put shopping bags down, even for a moment. Thieves are watching!
- Stolen gift cards: Buy gift cards only from reputable dealers, not online or from individuals. It’s easy for a scammer to sell you the card, then pull off the funds before you can even give the gift.
- Fake coupons: Be cautious when downloading coupons. Always make sure you are at a retailer’s real website. Be especially careful with coupon sites that ask for personal information.
- Santa scammers: What could be more jolly than a letter from Santa addressed directly to your child? Make sure the site is real and not gathering your data for identity theft purposes.
- Fake charities: Charities count on end-of-the-year giving, so be generous if you can. But be careful, too, because scammers set up fake charities with similar sounding names.
- Bogus websites: It’s easy to mimic a real website, with logos and everything. Red flags: http (not the more secure https), no contact information, asking for payment by wire or money card.
- Travel scams: With busy holiday travel, bargains may be tempting. Be cautious when booking through online ads, never wire money to someone you don’t know, and ask for references.
- Romance scams: Everyone wants a special someone under the mistletoe, so holidays are prime time for scams. Be careful with an online sweetheart who gets cozy too fast or asks for money.
- Puppy scams: Be very careful buying pets online, especially at the holidays. You may get a puppy mill pooch with problems, or you may get nothing at all because it was a scam.
To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit BBB.org.
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