Puppies, Fake Apps Among Scams Better Business Bureau Says To Watch Out For During Holiday Season

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) ​​recently released a “naughty list” of what it says are the top 12 scams of the holiday season.

The BBB has warned consumers to be cautious this holiday, especially when it comes to emails and social media, as scammers profit from the surge in online shopping linked to the pandemic. The organization said discounted items, event promotions, job postings, donation requests and direct messages from strangers should all be carefully considered.

Another red flag? Be prompted to make payments or donations by wire or wire transfer, through third parties, or with prepaid debit cards or gift cards, the organization said.

Below is the Better Business Bureau’s naughty list:

1. Misleading social media ads. You may see ads from small businesses or even those that claim to support charities. BBB Scam Tracker frequently receives reports from people paying for articles that they never receive from these ads after being billed monthly for a free trial they never agreed to. Sometimes consumers have received an item that is counterfeit or different from what was advertised. The 2020 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report found that online shopping scams are the most common drawbacks reported and claim the most victims. Check any questionable business profiles on BBB.org before committing to payments.

2. Exchanges of gifts on social networks. This common pattern will require people to exchange gifts, submit email addresses, or send money to strangers in order to “pay it forward.” The BBB has noted a specific example of “Secret Santa Dog” scam, where you buy a $ 10 gift for your “secret dog”. In all variations, the trick is “an illegal pyramid scheme,” the BBB wrote.

The Better Business Bureau has published a list of top scams to watch out for while on vacation, and many of the tips on the list relate to online shopping. This undated file photo shows a person looking at their credit card while using a computer.
alperhanaksoy / Getty Images

3. Vacation apps. Always check the privacy policies to see what information the apps are collecting before pressing “download”. Also be aware that some apps that claim to be free may have hidden costs or worse, malware.

4. Alerts on compromised accounts. This scam involves people receiving an alert claiming to be from Amazon, PayPal, or even a bank. The supposed alert informs people that their account has been set up in order to collect information or funds. Remember, it is always best to contact these companies directly and not to respond to suspicious text messages, emails, or phone calls.

5. Free gift cards. Scammers can also prey on consumers by sending bulk phishing emails asking for personal information in exchange for free gift cards, often masquerading as legitimate businesses. Always check before sharing sensitive information.

6. Temporary vacation jobs. While many companies are looking for extra help while on vacation, you should be wary of job opportunities that sound too good to be true.

7. Similar websites. Beware of emails containing links, even if the site in the link looks familiar. It could be a trick to trick you into downloading malware or sharing private information.

8. Fake charities. “Donors are advised to seek out fraudulent charities and con artists posing as people in need,” the BBB wrote. “Avoid impromptu donation decisions to unfamiliar organizations. Responsible organizations will welcome a gift tomorrow as much as they do today. “

9. False Shipment Notifications. Crooks are increasingly taking advantage of the switch to e-commerce by sending phishing emails. A new trick is to try to steal funds by asking people to pay fraudulent shipping charges.

10. Virtual pop-up vacation events. A scam that takes advantage of online events due to the pandemic involves criminals creating fake event pages, social media posts and holiday sale emails. The goal is to steal your credit card details, so confirm with the organizers before accepting any charges.

11. Best items on the holiday wishlist. Anytime you come across a lower than normal price for a luxury item or, say, a toy in demand that is sold out in every store, be extremely careful. The case could very well be the result of a forgery.

12. Puppy scams. Many families are looking to expand their homes while on vacation with a four-legged friend. “However, you could be the victim of a pet-related scam, which is on the rise this year,” the BBB warned. “Ask to see the animal in person before making a purchase.”

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