December 9, 2013
TOPICS FOR DECEMBER 2013
'Tis the Season for
Be cautious when shopping this holiday season, a time when schemes become even
more popular. Here are some schemes to be aware of:
It’s the classic “grandparent scam.” If your grandchild, other relative or
friend calls or emails to say they have been robbed or hurt overseas,
check before wiring money.
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.
Low prices on luxury goods are almost always cheap counterfeits.
- Pickpockets: Keep your purse or
wallet secure when shopping. Don’t get overburdened or put shopping bags
down, even for a moment. Thieves are watching!
What could be more exciting than a letter from Santa addressed directly to
your child? Make sure the website is real and not gathering your data for
identity theft purposes.
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
With busy holiday travel, bargains may be tempting. Be cautious when
booking travel plans through online ads, never wire money to someone you
don’t know, and ask for references.
Everyone wants a special someone to meet 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.
Be very careful buying pets online, especially during the holidays. You
may get a puppy with problems, or you may get nothing at all.
Gift Card Purchases
Gift cards are a popular item to give during the holiday season. With the gift
card scheme, the number can be taken off the back of the card, and then the
people doing the scheme use the money that the purchaser put on it. When the
consumer uses the card, it has no funds. The BBB encourages you to take these
steps before purchasing a gift card:
from sources you know and trust. Avoid buying gift cards from online auction sites
because they may be empty, counterfeit or stolen.
you can, ask for a card from behind the counter. These cards are hidden
from people who could possibly take the number off the back of the card.
the card before buying it. Verify that no protective stickers have been removed
and that the codes on the back of the card haven’t been scratched off to
reveal a PIN number. Report any damaged cards to the store selling the
the recipient your original receipt so they can verify the card's purchase in case it is
lost or stolen.
Make sure you are buying from known and trusted sources. Always check out
a business at indy.bbb.org.
Delivery Package Theft
Wrapped and delivered with care ... or not! This holiday season many people are
ordering gifts and having the items shipped to their house. There are people
who will follow a delivery truck and steal the box once the delivery truck has
left. Here are some tips the BBB recommends to keep this from happening to you:
is delivering your package.
the tracking number. Most delivery services offer text, email or Web-based
notifications that allow you to track your package’s delivery status.
Track your purchases often until you receive the merchandise. Contact the
store immediately if your package is not received when indicated.
a signature confirmation upon delivery. There is typically an
extra charge for this service, but it will prevent the delivery person
from leaving the package unattended.
a delivery time when you know you will be home. If you won’t be at
home when the delivery is scheduled, consider having the items shipped to
a trusted neighbor or friend who will be home. Tell them to be on the
lookout if the delivery person does not ring the doorbell.
special instructions for delivery if needed – Ask the package delivery
company to leave your purchases somewhere they cannot be seen from the
street, e.g. the back porch, behind the back door, etc.
that the package be held at the delivery company’s local delivery center, and
pick it up there.
you do receive your merchandise, examine
it immediately. If you believe it’s been tampered with,
contact the store immediately.
With consumers buying gifts this season, the BBB warns that some websites are
bogus. Often, these bogus sites will look very similar to the actual site they
are mimicking. Look at these tips before ordering from an online website you
haven’t used before:
for misspellings and items that are out of place; these are red flags.
websites that use https.
on trustworthy Web sites. Shoppers should start with the BBB to check a
seller’s reputation and record for customer satisfaction at indy.bbb.org.
for a customer service phone number and verify the address. Call the customer
service phone number to ensure they are the real deal. Also, verify the
address by contacting your local United States Post Office.
by credit card, if possible; you may have additional protection if there’s a
use money transfer services to send money to people you don’t know and trust,
especially people you’ve never met in person. Money transfer services do
not guarantee the receipt or quality of any goods or services an
individual may purchase using wire transfers as a payment method.
Be watchful for holiday e-cards this holiday season. Make sure you know the
person before you open an email from them. 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 in doubt, delete!
- Delete an email if you don’t know who it is from.
- If you see typos and grammatical mistakes, these are
- Look out for unsolicited emails from companies that you
have no association with.
- Make sure you have current antivirus software and that
all security patches have been installed.
Want to report a potential scheme or alert the BBB of unethical business
practices? Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information or to schedule an interview with a BBB
representative, contact: Tiffany Whisner, Coles Marketing Communications,