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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Central South Carolina and Charleston
Shopping Online For Mother's Day? Beware of Phishing Scams Disguised As Gift Sources
May 08, 2013

Columbia, SC, May 8, 2013 – With Mother’s Day coming up – and Father’s Day not far behind – many consumers will turn to the Internet to find great gifts for mom or dad. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) reminds consumers that some sites offering deeply discounted gifts are actually schemes to steal credit-card numbers or other personal information.

Some scammers send emails reminding people that the holiday is coming and suggesting a possible gift, such as cut-rate flowers, jewelry, shoes or designer clothing for moms. For dads, they may offer sports cars, gourmet hamburgers or golf accessories, for example.

While there are certainly many legitimate shopping sites online, scammers also lurk, ready to steal your credit card number and with no intention of delivering the goods. These scams are known as phishing because the scammers are “fishing” for unwary consumers who might give away sensitive personal information.

“Online shopping is so popular that it’s easy to let down your guard,” said Jim Camp, BBB President and CEO. “But consumers need to be sure they’re dealing with a legitimate site. Otherwise, they may end up buying trouble rather than a gift.”

Consumers should be wary of offers that are too good to be true, such as gifts that are being sold at discounts of 50 percent or more. Look out for spelling or grammar errors in the email, and check the email address that the offer is coming from to make sure it matches the name of the business that is allegedly offering the deal.

If you aren’t familiar with the site offering the gift, check the company’s BBB Business Review at www.bbb.org or by calling 800 892-3584.

The BBB has the following tips to avoid phishing schemes:

  • Don’t trust unsolicited emails, even if they appear to be from familiar businesses or agencies.  If you’re concerned about the validity of an email, contact the business or agency directly by phone or through its website to ask about the offer.
  • Don’t open any attachments in suspicious emails and don’t click on any links or give any personal information unless you are confident where it is going. If you have concerns, run your cursor over a link (but don’t click it) to determine if the actual link is the same as the one shown. 
  • Delete any suspicious email from your inbox and from your trash or recycling folder.
  • Don’t give your Social Security number, bank account number or any other personal information to unfamiliar persons contacting you by phone or by mail.
  • Be wary of misspellings, poor English, lots of capital letters or other signs that the person or persons contacting you may not be legitimate.

Consumers can learn how to protect themselves or find BBB Business Reviews by calling (800) 892-3584 or by going online to www.bbb.org.