12 Days of Christmas Scams
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Phony charities, pickpockets and puppies. The Better Business Bureau reveals common holiday cons.
Christmas is quickly approaching, and although the holiday is associated with cheer and generosity, scammers are in full force, ready to take advantage of unwary individuals who can be easily duped.
In the spirit of the popular holiday tune, Better Business Bureau wants people to be aware of the 12 scams of Christmas. These frauds and cons are common during the holiday season, and being alert can save clients from the negative repercussions of these frauds during the otherwise jolly holiday season.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, a scammer gave to me:
Twelve malware e-cards
During the holidays, people love to spread the cheer, sometimes in the form of holiday e-cards. But viruses and malware often travel in e-mail attachments or links.
Better Business Bureau advises deleting e-mails from people whose names you don’t recognize. When in doubt, delete the e-mail or e-card. It is better to take caution than to fall victim to a corruptive virus.
Eleven stranded grandkids
Family is important, especially around the holidays. Scammers, however, can take advantage of this, utilizing what the Better Business Bureau characterizes as the “classic grandparent scam.”
If someone calls or sends an email pretending to be a grandchild, relative or friend, claiming they were robbed or harmed overseas, asking for money, check to verify that it is true before taking action.
Ten counterfeit gifts
Everybody likes a good deal, but low prices on luxury goods almost always means that the product is a cheap counterfeit.
Be careful while holiday shopping this year, especially online. Counterfeit transactions are illegal and harmful for brand owners and can leave customers dissatisfied.
Make sure that you purchase goods from a credible merchant. Read our article Safety Tips for Cyber Monday for online shopping strategies.
Nine pockets picked
Cold weather means bundling up. But with some of the extra padding of a puffy coat, we may not notice pickpockets who are willing to take advantage of the situation.
While out and about this holiday season, keep your purse or wallet secure. Better Business Bureau also warns against putting shopping bags down, even for a moment. Experienced thieves are waiting for the perfect moment to snatch up any valuables.
Eight stolen gift cards
Gift cards can be the perfect gift: easy to buy and are usually a big hit with recipients. However, make sure that you are purchasing gift cards from a reputable dealer.
Scammers can sell you a card and use the funds, even before you have the chance to give the card as a gift, the Better Business Bureau claims.
Seven fake coupons
Buying so many gifts during the holiday season, it is no surprise that many look to coupons to save a little cash, but Better Business Bureau suggests that people use caution when downloading coupons.
A retailer’s website is the best place to find coupons, and be wary particularly if a website asks for personal information.
Six Santa scammers
Receiving a letter from Santa Claus can be the highlight of the Christmas season for a young child, but these websites could put you at risk for identity theft.
Before entering any personal information, verify that the site is real, and not just gathering data to commit fraud.
Five fake charities
The Christmas season is about generosity, and many charities thrive on end-of-the-year giving as part of their annual income.
Although Better Business Bureau encourages charity, be careful when giving this holiday season. Scammers set up fake charities that have names that often sound legitimate or are similar to popular charities. Verify the organization before you make a charitable donation this Christmas.
Four bogus websites
For those who do not know what to look for, it can be almost impossible to differentiate a real website from a bogus one.
It is easy for a hacker to mimic a real website. A red flag is if a website reads “http” in the address bar instead of the more secure “https.” Additionally, if contact information is not listed, or they are asking for a payment by wire or money card, look for verification that the website is not a fraud.
Three travel scams
Travelling during the holidays can get pricey, so airfare bargains can be tempting. But this is just another way that scammers can take advantage of unsuspecting travellers.
Be cautious when booking travel through an advertisement online, and never wire money to someone you do not know. Using trusted travel agencies or websites recommended by friends and family members can ensure that you will not fall victim to travel scams.
Two phony loves
Everyone wants someone special to share a kiss under the mistletoe or as the ball drops on New Year’s. But for those looking for love online, the holidays are a prime time for scams.
Be careful when finding an online sweetheart, especially with an online match that that gets cozy too fast and asks for money, the Better Business Bureau warns.
… And a totally fictitious puppy
There may be no better gift than a cute and cuddly puppy, but be careful when buying a pet online.
Scammers take advantage of those who want to give puppies for the holidays. Sometimes these puppies can come from puppy mills, and could have serious health problems. Other scams could involve paying for the pet online, but never receiving the puppy because it was all a scam.
If you decide to give man’s best friend for Christmas, find a reputable breeder or local rescue league to avoid being burdened by an online con.
By Hannah Bender