BBB of Acadiana alerts residents to be aware of holiday scams
As local residents finish Christmas shopping in stores and online, buy groceries for gumbo or Christmas dinner and look for something to wear for the holidays, the BBB of Acadiana is warning residents to beware of holiday scammers.
Consumers who let down their guard during the hectic holiday season can easily fall prey to scammers poised to pounce on careless or overburdened shoppers.
The BBB has identified four common scams that consumers should watch out for during the holidays, whether they’re shopping online, juggling packages at the mall or simply reading their email.
1. Online shopping scams: Some websites offer electronics or luxury goods at prices that are too good to be true but the offers are actually scams. If you are looking for the season’s hottest toys and gadgets online after stores sell out, you may find the items online at sites like Craigslist or eBay— but for a much steeper price. Some sellers will take your money and run, leaving you without the gift or money to buy it elsewhere.
BBB Advice: If you shop Craigslist, look for local sellers and conduct transactions in person. Bring a friend if you’re uncomfortable meeting the seller alone. Never wire money as payment. If you’re shopping on auctions like eBay, research sellers extensively and don’t buy if the deal sounds too good to be true.
2. Identity theft at the mall: While you are struggling with bags of presents at the register, identity thieves may see an opportunity to steal your wallet or look over your shoulder to copy your debit or credit card numbers and read pin numbers as you type them in.
BBB Advice: Don’t let yourself get bogged down in purchases or lose track of your wallet. Know where your credit and debit cards are at all times and cover the keypad when entering your pin number while purchasing items or getting money from an ATM.
3. Bogus charitable pleas: The holidays are a time of giving, and that creates an opportunity for scammers to solicit donations to line their own pockets. Beware of solicitations from charities that don’t necessarily deliver on their promises or are ill-equipped to carry through on their plans. Resist demands for on-the-spot donations.
BBB Advice: Always research charities with the BBB before you give to see if the charity meets the BBB’s 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. Up-to-date reports on local and national charities are available at www.bbb.org/charity.
4. Phishing emails: Phishing emails are a common way for hackers to get at your personal information or break into your computer. Around the holidays, beware of e-cards and messages pretending to be from companies like UPS or FedEx with links to package tracking information.
BBB Advice: Don’t click on any links or open any attachments to emails until you have confirmed that they are not malicious. Email addresses that don’t match up, typos and grammatical mistakes are common red flags of a malicious phishing email. Also, beware of unsolicited emails from companies with which you have no association. Make sure you have current antivirus software and that all security patches have been installed on the computer.
START WITH TRUST. Always look for the BBB logo when shopping online or in stores.
The BBB is an unbiased, non-profit organization which sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America.
The BBB of Acadiana service area includes Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion parishes. Start With Trust. Always check with the BBB before you do business. Please visit the Better Business Bureau of Acadiana at acadiana.bbb.org.