BBB's 12 Scams of Christmas

December 03, 2013

12 Scams of Christmas


Better Business Bureau is warning about these common holiday scams and frauds.

Malware e-cards: Viruses and malware often travel in e-mail attachements or links. Don't click on an e-mail from someone your don't know or a name you don't recognize. When in doubt, delete it.

Stranded grandkids: It's the classic "grandparent scam". If your grandchild, or other relative or friend calls or e-mails 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 trafficers or terrorists.

Pickpockets: Need we say more? Keep your purse or wallet secure when shopping. Don't get overburdened or put shopping bags down, even for a moment. 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: Charities count on end-of-the-year giving, so be generous if you can. But be careful, too, because scammer set up fake charities with similar sounding names as legitimate charities. 

Bogus websites: It's easy to mimic a real website, with logos and everything. Red flags: http (instead of 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 someon 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 lets cozy too fast or asks for money.

Puppy scams: Be careful buying pets online, especially at the holidays. You may bet a puppy mill pooch with problems, or you may get nothing at all because it was a scam.