INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Christmas is around the corner and the Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to watch out for the 12 most common scams during the holiday season. One scam will make you want to do your homework if you're shopping for a puppy this Christmas.
The BBB believes thieves are turning to the internet more often these days, because consumers are doing just about everything online. People tend to be more giving these days and add in the busy holiday schedules and you've got the perfect situation for a scammer to take advantage of.
"People’s guard is down. They’ll give information. They’ll input things in the internet and not think about where it’s going to go, who’s going to get it," explained Tim Maniscalo, President of the BBB of Central Indiana.
Here are the BBB's 12 Scams of Christmas:
- Malware E Cards: E-Cards are a fun way to send holiday greetings, but be careful as naughty senders like to attach viruses along with them. Don’t click on emails from someone you don’t know or a name you don’t recognize. When in doubt, delete it out.
- Counterfeit Goods: Luxury goods at low prices are almost always cheap counterfeits. Handbags, jewelry, watches, wallets, and electronic devices are among the top of the list of items counterfeited. Always buy from reputable sellers, and check the web for signs of counterfeit goods.
- Look-A-Like Websites: It’s easy to recreate a website with a familiar logo, so beware when you’re shopping online. Some red flags are the webpage is in http format, not the secure https, no contact information, and even asking for payment by wire or money card. If you’re not sure which site to trust, go to bbb.org and read online reviews first.
- Unusual Forms of Payment: Be wary of anyone who asks you to pay for holiday purchases using prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers, third parties, etc. These payments can’t be traced and undone. Use a credit card on a secure website (https-the extra s is for secure), and the lock symbol.
- Santa Scammers: What better than a letter from Santa to light up your child’s face? Many trusted companies offer charming and personalized letters from Santa, but scammers mimic them to get personal information from unsuspecting parents. Always check the website’s privacy policies before entering any information to know how it will be used, if you don’t see a policy then leave that website. Keep your computer secure by using firewalls, anti-spyware and antivirus software.
- Fake shipping notifications: These can have attachments or links to sites that will download malware on your computer to steal your identity and your passwords. Don’t be fooled by a holiday phishing scam.
- Grandparents scam: Seniors should be cautious if they get a call from a grandchild claiming to be in an accident, arrested or hospitalized while traveling in another country. Never send money unless you confirm with another family member that it’s true.
- Phony charities: Everyone is in a generous mood at the holidays, so scammers take advantage of that with fake charity solicitations in email, on social media sites, and even by text. Check out charities at give.org before donating.
- Temporary holiday jobs: Retailers and delivery services need extra help at the holidays, but beware of solicitations that require you to share personal information online or pay for a job lead. Apply in person or go to retailers’ main websites to find out who is hiring.
- Travel Scams: The holidays are the biggest travel days of the year, which means scammers are lurking. Booking online is the most convenient way for many, but a scammer can be on the other end of the computer. Before you book make sure you are booking through a reputable and verifiable website. Also, be wary of online ads, and never wire any money to someone you don’t know.
- Free gift cards: Pop-up ads or email offering free gift cards are often just a ploy to get your personal information that can later be used for identity theft.
- Puppy Scams: Be very careful when buying pets online, especially during the holidays. You can end up with an unhealthy puppy from a puppy mill, or nothing at all because that dog never existed and it was all a scam. Always research where you are buying the dog from and never wire any money. Be sure to pick up the puppy in person instead of paying someone to ship it.
To find out which scams are happening in your neighborhood, check out the BBB's Scam Tracker website here.