Looking forward to the holidays? So are the scammers. As many begin to maketheir holiday gift list and charity donations, unscrupulous scammers aregearing up to deck the halls with their tried and true holiday scams. BetterBusiness Bureau is warning holiday shoppers and donors to know the red flagsand to be on their guard for this season’s holiday scams.
Every year, thousands of shoppers fall victim to the holiday deals thatseem too good to be true, and the bogus charity pleas that pull at the heartstrings. This holiday season, BBB urges consumers to take the following tipsinto consideration before doing their holiday shopping and making charitydonations:
Alwayscheck a business’s BBB Business Review, at www.bbb.org, before making a purchase in thestore or online. Make sure that the company has a physicaladdress and telephone number. When shopping online, some websites offerelectronics or luxury goods at prices that are too good to be true. Everyholiday season, BBB hears from holiday shoppers who paid for a "greatdeal" online, but received little or nothing in return.
Ifyou shop Craigslist or other free bulletin board sites, look for localsellers and conduct transactions in person. Bring a friend if you're uncomfortable meeting theseller alone. Never wire money as payment. If you're shopping on auctions likeEBay, look at seller ratings and read their reviews. Don't buy if the dealsounds too good to be true.
Don'tlet yourself get bogged down in purchases or lose track of your wallet. While you're struggling with bags of presents,identity thieves may see an opportunity to steal your wallet or look over yourshoulder to copy your debit or credit card numbers. Know where your credit anddebit cards are at all times and cover the keypad when entering your PIN whilepurchasing items or getting money from an ATM. Make sure you put your card backin your wallet after each purchase.
Alwaysresearch charities with BBB before you give to see if the charity meets BBB's 20Standards for Charity Accountability. The holidays are a time of giving, and that creates an opportunityfor scammers to solicit donations to line their own pockets. Beware ofsolicitations from charities that don't necessarily deliver on their promisesor are ill-equipped to carry through on their plans. Resist demands foron-the-spot donations. Up-to-date reports on local and national charities areavailable at www.give.org.
Don'tclick on any links or open any attachments to emails until you have confirmedthat they are not malicious.Phishing emails are a common way for hackers to get at your personalinformation or break into your computer. Around the holidays, beware of e-cardsand messages pretending to be from companies like UPS or FedEx with links topackage tracking information. Email addresses that don't match up, typos andgrammatical mistakes are common red flags of a malicious phishing email. Alsobeware of unsolicited emails from companies with which you have no association.Make sure you have current antivirus software and that all security patcheshave been installed on the computer.
For more holiday tips that you cantrust, visit www.bbb.org for a fulllist of tips in English and Spanish.