On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a fake coupon scam...? Wait a second, that’s not how the song goes. Unfortunately, the reality of the holiday season is an increase in scams and fraud such as fake coupons, counterfeit gifts, and malware. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer the partridge.
Although this is the season for giving, scammers see it as the ideal time for taking. Many of us are influenced by the giving mentality, and let our guard down as a result. To help avoid fraud this season, Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be on the lookout for these common holiday scams:
- Malware e-cards: Viruses and malware often travel in e-mail attachments or links. Don’t click on an e-mail from someone you don’t know or a name you don’t recognize. When it doubt, delete.
- Stranded grandkids: It’s the classic “grandparent scam.” If your grandchild, other relative or friend calls or e-mails to say they were robbed or hurt overseas, you should double 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 could 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, even for a moment. Thieves could be watching.
- Stolen gift cards: Buy your gift cards from reputable dealers, rather than 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 jollier than a letter from Santa addressed directly to your child? Before signing up, make sure the site is real and not gathering data to steal your identity.
- Fake charities: Charities count on end-of-the-year giving, so be generous if you can. However, be sure to give-wisely as scammers have been known to set up fake charities under similar names.
- Bogus websites: It’s easy to mimic a real website, by copying a company’s layout and using their logos. Look for red flags such as, strictly “http” (instead of the more secure “https”) at the beginning of the website’s URL, no contact information, or 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. Just be careful with sweethearts met online, especially if he/she starts asking 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 because it was a scam.