BBB complies list of top 12 Holiday scams of 2018

Raleigh, NC – The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects consumers to spend approximately $1,000 this year leading to $720 billion spent overall for holiday shopping. As shoppers set records on spending Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina (BBB) urges consumers to be prepared for scammers looking to take a bit of your holiday cheer.
“Consumers need to be extra careful during the holiday shopping season,” said Alyssa Gutierrez, Director of Communications for BBB serving Eastern NC. “Scammers know that people are out shopping in stores and online and will do anything they can to steal money.”
Top twelve holiday scams targeting consumers:
Look-Alike Websites. Many consumers will see an increase in the number of email alerts announcing deals, gifts, and sales. While mailers can look legitimate, the links may lead to look-alike websites meant to trick you into entering private information or give scammers an opportunity to download malware onto your computer. To protect themselves, consumers should review the email for misspellings, poor grammar and avoid clicking on any links.
Social Media Gift Exchange. Purchasing one gift and receiving several in return may sound like a harmless way to give and receive presents, but this seasonal scam is a pyramid scheme, which is illegal.
Grandparent Scams. Scammers target seniors posing as a grandchild or other family member and claim they have been in an accident, arrested, hospitalized or another urgent issue. The circumstance often requires money be sent immediately to resolve. If you receive one of these calls, hang up and contact the family member in question.
Temporary Holiday Jobs. Many businesses require extra help with the holiday rush and often seek temporary employees. Beware of fraudsters who attempt to glean personal information and require you to send money prior to an interview.
Free Gift Cards. Who doesn’t love free stuff especially around the holidays? Scammers hope to take advantage of that fondness through phishing emails and pop-up ads offering gift cards. If you receive one of these offers, do not click on any links as there is a high chance it may be malware.
E-Cards. Christmas cards are sent out this time of year and while some friends and family may be going high-tech by using e-cards, so are scammers. Avoid opening any suspicious email but if you do and see an attachment that ends in “.exe” which indicates an execute command and could download a virus, do not open it.
Fake Shipping Notifications. Deliveries notifications can often be expected throughout the holiday season as many consumers go online to purchase gifts, but some of these announcements may be phishing scams. These false notification emails often use a legitimate businesses name and logo to trick you into opening the email and allowing thieves to gain access to personal information and passwords.
Phony Charities. Charities often get a boost this season as consumers are in the giving spirit but scammers seeking to take advantage can pose as charities or needy individuals soliciting donations. To find out more information on a charity, check out BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance or
Letters From Santa. Many legitimate businesses offer personalized letters from Santa, but some copycat scammers are only looking to glean personal information from unsuspecting parents. Be suspicious of unsolicited emails offering special prices or packages for letters from Santa.
Unusual Forms of Payments. When making your holiday purchases be wary of anyone asking for a strange form of payment as they often can’t be traced or undone. These may include: prepaid debit or gift cards, wire transfers or third parties.
Travel Scams. Traveling for the holidays can get expensive and bargains may be tempting, but some offers may be scams that end up costing you more instead of helping you save. Consumers should be cautious when it comes to email offers, especially if it is from an unknown sender or company. Also never wire money to someone you don’t know.
Puppy Scams. While a year-round issue, puppy scams hurt families seeking to add a family member to their household for the holidays. Puppy scams are often difficult to avoid as cute pictures, and good deals pull at the heartstrings and wallet. Never pay using a money order or via the Western Union or Moneygram, instead use a credit card, which will give you the added protection of being able to dispute the charges.
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