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.