The 12 Scams of Christmas

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    BBB presents the most popular scams to make Santa’s naughty list this holiday season

    Did you know Canadians are expected to shell out approximately $1,500* this holiday shopping season? While the spirit of Christmas usually brings out the joy of giving for most people, BBB says for scammers the holidays are a time of taking.

    Buying gifts and donating to charities presents countless opportunities for scrooges and scammers to swindle consumers out of personal information and hard-earned money. Shoppers are encouraged to be mindful of scamming fraudsters, who unlike the Grinch, will not return your money or gifts.

    “With the holiday shopping and charitable donation season upon us, scammers are preying on people’s generosity,” says Mary O’Sullivan-Andersen, president and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay. “They can be cleverly disguised as reputable charities and retailers looking to swindle shoppers out of their hard-earned money and personal information. Be sure you’re only dealing with trustworthy and official businesses this holiday season.”

    So, in the spirit of savvy consumerism, Better Business Bureau offers The 12 Scams of Christmas:

    1. Counterfeit goods. Low prices on luxury goods are almost always cheap counterfeits. At best, you’ll look like a Scrooge. At worst, you may be helping finance drug illegal activity.

    2. Look-alike websites: When shopping online, make sure to use only legitimate websites. Watch out for URLs that use the names of well-known brands along with extra words.

    3. Fake shipping notifications:These can have attachments or links to sites that will download malware on your computer to steal your identity and your passwords. Don’t be fooled by a holiday phishing scam.

    4. Malicious e-cards:Electronic cards can be great fun, but be careful. Two red flags to watch out for are: the sender’s name is not apparent; you are required to share additional information to get the card.

    5. Letters from Santa:Several trusted companies offer charming and personalized letters from Santa, but scammers mimic them to get personal information from unsuspecting parents. Check with bbb.org to find out which ones are legitimate.

    6. Emergency scams:Be cautious if you get a call from a family member or friend claiming to be in an accident, arrested, or hospitalized while traveling in another country. Never send money unless you confirm with another family member that it’s true.

    7. Phony charities:Everyone is in a generous mood at the holidays, so scammers take advantage of that with fake charity solicitations in email, on social media sites, and even by text. Canadians charities must be registered with the Canada Revenue Agency. If they can’t prove they are registered with the CRA, but claim to be an official charity, it could be a red flag.

    8. Temporary holiday jobs:Retailers and delivery services need extra help at the holidays, but beware of email or text message solicitations that require you to share personal information online or pay for a job lead or hire you without an interview. Apply in person or go to retailers’ main websites to find out who is hiring.

    9. Free gift cards:Online pop-up ads or emails offering free gift cards are often just a ploy to get your personal information that can later be used for identity theft.

    10. Romance Scams: Everyone wants a special someone under the mistletoe, so holidays are prime time for scams. Be careful with an online sweetheart who gets cozy too fast or asks for money.

    11. Puppy Scams: Be very careful buying pets online, especially during the holidays. You may get a puppy mill pooch with problems, or you may get nothing at all because it was a scam.

    12. “Free” beauty product trials: Deceiving online ads for “free” cosmetic products  lure consumers into providing credit card information to pay for the shipping and handling fees for the otherwise “free” product. In reality, consumers find their credit cards charged with hundreds of dollars’ worth of beauty products, as they unknowingly signed up for a monthly subscription service.

    *How much should you spend on Christmas gifts given your income?

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