BBB offers tips to avoid holiday scams

December 04, 2013

Making your list and checking it twice? So are the schemers and scammers. As many begin to make their holiday gift list and charity donations, unscrupulous scammers and crooks are gearing up to deck the halls with ill-gotten gains through tried and true holiday scams.

The Better Business Bureau of Acadiana is warning holiday shoppers and donors to know the red flags and to be on their guard for this season’s holiday scams.

Every year, thousands of shoppers fall victim to the holiday deals that seem too good to be true and the bogus charity pleas that pull at our heartstrings. This holiday season, the BBB of Acadiana urges consumers to be aware of common scams and schemes that frequently occur doing this time of year:

•Malware e-cards: Viruses and malware often travel in email attachments or links. Don’t click on an email from someone you don’t know or a name you don’t recognize. When it doubt, delete!

•Stranded grand kids: It’s the classic “grandparent scam.” If your grandchild,other relative or friend calls or emails 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. 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 or look-alike 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 of charities with great reputations.

•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.

BBB’s consumer services are offered free to everyone and are available locally, nationally,and online. The BBB of Acadiana works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses. For more information, please visit

The BBB of Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St.Landry and Vermilion.