Watch out for these 12 scams of Christmas: BBB

As Christmas Day approaches, many consumers are still in the midst of holiday shopping. But it pays to watch out for fraudsters and scammers trying to swindle you out of your cash or steal your personal information.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has shared a list of common scams you could encounter this holiday season.

Before you buy, BBB president Simone Lis suggests consumers do a little research about the company they’re purchasing from and even consult a friend.

“Talk about your purchases with someone you trust. Is that genuinely a good deal or is it too good to be true? Don’t let a Grinch steal your holiday spirit or your hard-earned money,” Lis said in a press release.

Here are 12 common holiday scams you should what out for them.

1. Misleading social media ads

One reason to always research a company before buying is because it’s common for people to pay for items that they never receive, get charged monthly after a free trial they never signed up for or receive an item that is counterfeit or much different from the one advertised due to misleading advertisements.

2. Social media gift exchanges

Be very careful about participating in gift exchanges on social media. They could be used as a way for a scammer to obtain personal information or trick people into buying and shipping gifts or money to unknown individuals.

3. Holiday apps

If you or your child downloaded a holiday-themed cellphone or tablet app where you can do things like video chat with Santa, light a menorah or track Santa’s sleigh movements, it’s a good idea to review the privacy policy to see what information might be collected. Beware of subscription fees.

4. Alerts about compromised accounts

You might receive an email, call or text stating that there has been suspicious activity on one of your accounts. Be careful, as it might be scam to gain access to these accounts or obtain private information.

5. Gift cards

Lately, scammers have been using duplicated bar code stickers for other types of gift cards and placing them on top of the intended barcode. CTVNews.ca recently published details of this particular scam. So, double-check the bar code when buying gift cards.

6. Temporary holiday jobs

Another popular holiday season scam is sending temporary job offers, as retailers often hire seasonal workers ahead of the holiday season to work busier days, such as Boxing Day. Watch out for emails and online fake websites, experts advise. According to BBB, 65 per cent of job offer scams reported were related to becoming a “warehouse redistribution co-ordinator,” or similar tittles.

7. Look-alike websites

Be wary of emails with links enclosed offering deals, sales and bargains in holiday season. Do not click on the links in messages you did not expect to receive. These links may send you to websites made to look like legitimate sites, that then trick you to download malware, make dead-end purchases, or share private information, BBB warned.

8. Fake charities

Scammers sometimes use fraudulent charities to deceive donors. Donors are advised to look out for scammers pretending to be individuals in need. Always ask for credentials for charity representatives to prove that they are with the organization they claim to be representing.

9. Fake shipping notifications

If you are buying something online, make sure the website is not fake, and be wary of shipping notifications. An increase in online shopping means an increase in emails regarding shipping information and tracking. Scammers are using this surge notifications to disguise phishing emails, with links enclosed that may allow unwanted access to your private information. Scammers may also use fake shipping notifications as an attempt to trick people into paying fake duty or other fees.

10. Pop-up holiday events

Before buying from a seasonal store, make sure the business is not fraudulent by asking whether it will be open after the holiday and whether it will accept returns when the season is over. If not, you may want to buy the product elsewhere, or do more research first.

11. Hot toy scams

If you see merchandise priced unusually low, don’t purchase it immediately. Instead, do research first, and make sure the retailer you’re buying from is familiar. It might be a scam. In one case reported to BBB, a Canadian man lost $640 – money he sent an unknown seller to buy a Playstation 5. Once the seller had the money, they disappeared and disconnected their phone number, and the man never got the Playstation or his money back.

12. Puppy scams

Before buying a pet, make sure to see the pet in person. People pay thousands of dollars to scammers each year purchasing pets online. According to BBB, the number of cases are dropping, but average monetary loss to pet scams has increased 60 per cent since 2017. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Center (CAFC) has logged 247 reports of pet scams in 2022 so far — a loss of about $217,453.

Reporting for this story was paid for through The Afghan Journalists in Residence Project funded by Meta.

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