HYANNIS – As Black Friday arrives and the holiday season starts in earnest, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning the public to be mindful of scams looking to swipe cash and personal information.
The organization says that most of the scams to watch out for on their Naughty List are email- and social media-based, however it is on the latter that most people are vulnerable.
False or misleading advertisements for small businesses on social media are one of the top ways people will get scammed, said the bureau, with many finding themselves purchasing items that never arrive or getting billed monthly for a free trial that was never signed up for.
Gift exchange events involving purchasing bottles of wine, $10 gift cards, or asking individuals to submit their email into a list so participants can send money to “pay it forward” is another common holiday scheme, said the bureau.
“In all of these versions, participants unwittingly share their personal information, along with those of their family members and friends, and are further tricked into buying and shipping gifts or money to unknown individuals. And it’s an illegal pyramid scheme,” said BBB officials in a statement.
As more events head online to the digital space—including visits with Santa through holiday-themed apps—BBB also urged parents to be mindful of free phone apps that may collect more information on users than expected.
The bureau said dozens of holiday-themed apps have been introduced allowing children to video chat live with Santa, light the menorah, watch someone feed live reindeer, or relay holiday wish lists, but all should have their privacy policies reviewed to see what information will be collected before use.
Those looking to make a donation to a nonprofit this year should also be wary.
“Typically, 40% of all charitable donations are received during the last few weeks of the year. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations had to cancel their usual fundraising events and awareness campaigns and are now inviting donors to support online,” said the bureau.
“Donors are advised to lookout for fraudulent charities and scammers pretending to be individuals in need. Avoid impromptu donation decisions to unfamiliar organizations. Responsible organizations will welcome a gift tomorrow as much as they do today.”
The Better Business Bureau’s full list of holiday scam tips can be found on their website here.
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