The 12 scams of Christmas

By Dale Dixon/ BBB Trust Evangelist

I asked Better Business Bureau’s great team of professionals who answer phones non-stop each day to help me re-write the 12-Days of Christmas with a scam twist.  I’ll share the song in its entirety, then break down each scam with a quick explanation. Feel free to sing along.

On the twelfth day of Christmas

my not-so-true love sent to me:

Twelve scammers scamming

Eleven (un)lucky lottery wins

Ten texted gift cards

Nine naughty pictures

Eight charities asking

Seven shippers shipping

Six computer viruses

Five feigning faxes

Four debt collectors faking

Three kids crying, “Grandma, I need help!”

Two secret shopper swindles

and a BBB complaint in my in-box

Now, let’s break it down, line-by-line:

Twelve scammers scamming:  It’s hard to believe someone could devote every waking moment to devising new ways to rip off people, but that’s the case and the scammers are prolific.

Eleven (un)lucky lottery wins:  This tops the list for volume of phone calls at BBB.  The scammer calls, saying you’ve won the lottery, then asks you to pay a fee to collect the winnings.  Never pay up front fees or taxes to collect a prize.

Ten texted gift cards:  Any text that arrives on your cell-phone claiming you’ve won a gift card from a retailer is a scam, unless you’ve signed up for a specific give-away.  Even then, be suspicious of the announcement.  Hit delete.

Nine naughty pictures: Naughty as in, “Look at what we caught you doing in this Facebook picture.”  Don’t fall for the email, text message or social media message that there’s a compromising pic or video of you circulating the net.  Hit delete.

Eight charities asking:  Make-A-Wish Children’s Foundation is calling into the area, asking for money.  Notice the familiar name tied to a play on words? The real Make-A-Wish never phone solicits.  Hang up on solicitations and research a charity with bbb.org before giving.

Seven shippers shipping:  Emails claiming a package is waiting for you or a package you sent did not make its destination are favorite ploys to infect your computer with a virus and capture your personal information.  Hit delete.

Six computer viruses:  Cat and mouse never goes out of style as the good guys try to stay one step ahead of the bad guys.  Update software and stick with trusted sites while browsing.

Five feigning faxes:  From great travel deals to employment posters, don’t trust the mass-faxed message.  Shred it.

Four debt collectors faking: Don’t be scared by the nasty debt collector claiming you owe.  Check your credit report at annualcreditreport.com, pay your legitimate bills and dispute the fakes.

Three kids crying, “Grandma, I need help!”:  Have a family conversation this holiday season – setting a family rule that no-one is to wire money to a family member in distress without first verifying the location of the person supposedly in trouble.

Two secret shopper swindles: Evaluating customer service sounds like fun, but it will never include an up-front paycheck with instructions to wire most of it away.

…and a BBB complaint in my in-box:  It’s not the way BBB does business.  If you have a question, call us on the ActionLine.

Bottom line: Make it a Merry (and safe) Christmas.

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1 Comment

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One response to “The 12 scams of Christmas

  1. Mark Burrows

    Well done, I enjoyed that. I had to laugh at four debt collectors faking. I haven’t had debt in decades so I would ignore them out of pure nature. But in the old days, when a company handed over your account to a debt collector, in essence they basically gave up. Debt collectors were not law enforcement agencies, they were simply intimidation operatives who would bully and brow beat you into paying up, if you did they received a goodly percentage of the recovery. Yet on the other hand if their tactics, which often were, crossed the line of harassment beyond reasonable protocol one could turn around and take legal action against the collection agency. They would have to back off because the account is in their hands and not in the possession of the original creditor. All they can do at this point is report back to the original creditor that all is lost and of course you would get a black mark on your credit history. An interesting note, there is a statute of limitations on your credit history. I can’t recall at this moment but after so many years of any credit activity your credit history is expunged. One would think this is good news, but it is not really. Credit companies are wary of anyone who has a perfectly clean credit report. Ironically they prefer to give credit to people who are habitual to using credit. I guess it’s like the old Blues song Sixteen Tons where it says, Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go, I owe my soul to the company store.

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