By Robb Hicken/BBB’s chief storyteller
Christmas brings with it many wanted gifts, but some lumps of coal are being delivered by the mal Santa (scammers) who also know this.
Here’s the 12 scam tips:
Malware e-cards: E-cards are an easy way to send holiday greetings, and viruses. Don’t click on an email from a name you don’t recognize, the BBB says. Deleting is your best bet if you have any doubt.
Stranded grandkids: The grandparent scam is one to watch out for at any time of the year. If you receive a call or email from a grandchild, relative or friend that says they were hurt or robbed overseas, check into it further before wiring money.
Counterfeit gifts: If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Luxury products for cheap prices are likely counterfeit. You could be helping fund drug traffickers or terrorists.
Pickpockets: Keep your wallet or purse on hand and secure while shopping.
Stolen gift cards: Be careful where you purchase your gift cards. Online and from people puts you at risk for purchasing an empty card.
Fake coupons: Be wary of websites that ask for personal information when downloading coupons. A retailer’s real website is the safest bet.
Santa scammers: A letter from Santa addressed directly to your child is likely to make them light up. However, be sure the source is legitimate before giving up your data and leaving you at risk for identity theft.
Fake charities: The holiday season is a time of giving, and there are many charities that need the help especially in this time of year. Be sure your generosity is going to the right places. Scammers can easily set up charities with similar sounding names.
Bogus websites: It’s always a good idea to be vigilant when buying online. It’s easy to recreate a website with similar logos. Some red flags to watch for are http instead of https, a lack of contact information and asking for payment by wire or money card.
Travel scams: Vacations are great; getting bamboozled is not. Be cautious when booking through online ads. If you’re feeling uneasy about wiring money to strangers, trust that nervousness. Asking for references is always a good idea.
Romance scams: The holidays can be lonely, but online lovers who get too close too fast may not have the best intentions. If they’re asking for money, it could be a sign for concern.
Puppy scams: Buying pets online opens you up to getting scammed. You could end up with nothing, or a puppy mill pooch with problems.