While 2021 is quickly winding down, scams targeting the public continue to cause trouble. Consumers should watch out for any fraudulent schemes aimed at swiping their cash and stealing personal information.
The Better Business Bureau of South Central Louisiana wants you to be mindful of these scams that could cut into your holiday cheer, and our tips to avoid them:
- Misleading Social Media Ads: The 2020 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Reportfound that online purchase scams were the most common cons reported to Scam Tracker and the category with the most victims. Do your homework and research the company before ordering. Check out the business profile on BBB.org and read the reviews.
- Social Media Gift Exchanges: This is when 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.
- Holiday Apps: Review privacy policies to see what information will be collected. Be wary of free apps, as they can sometimes contain more advertising than apps that require a nominal fee. Free apps can also contain malware.
- Alerts About Compromised Accounts: BBB has been receiving reports on Scam Trackerabout a con claiming your Amazon, Paypal, Netflix or bank account has been compromised. Victims receive an email, call, or text message which explains that there has been suspicious activity on one of their accounts, and it further urges them to take immediate action to prevent the account from being compromised. Be extra cautious about unsolicited calls, emails, and texts.
- Free Gift Cards: Nothing brings good cheer like the word ‘FREE’. Scammers have been known to take advantage of this weakness by sending bulk phishing emails requesting personal information to receive free gift cards. If you have received an unsolicited email with gift card offers, do not open it. Instead, mark it as Spam or Junk. However, if you opened the email, do not click on any links.
- Temporary Holiday Jobs: Jobseekers need to be wary of employment scams aimed at stealing money and personal information from job applicants. Keep an eye out for opportunities that seem too good to be true.
- Look-Alike Websites: The holiday season brings endless emails offering deals, sales and bargains. Be wary of emails with links enclosed. Some may lead to look-alike websites created by scammers to trick people into downloading malware, making dead-end purchases and sharing private information. If you are uncertain about the email, do not click any of the links. Instead, hover over them to see where they reroute.
- Fake Charities: Typically, 40% of all charitable donations are received during the last few weeks of the year. 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.
- Fake Shipping Notifications: More consumers are making purchases online, there is also an increase in the number of notifications about shipping details from retailers and carriers. Scammers are using this new surge to send phishing emails with links enclosed that may allow unwanted access to your private information or download malware onto your device. They may also try to trick people into paying new shipping fees.
- Pop Up Holiday Virtual Events: Scammers are creating fake event pages, social media posts, and emails, charging admission for what used to be a free event. The goal is to steal credit card information. Confirm with the organizer of the event if there is an admission fee. In the cases where there is a charge, use a credit card. If the event is free, watch for scammers trying to claim otherwise.
- Top Holiday Wish List Items: Low or ridiculously priced luxury goods, jewelry, designer clothing, and electronics are almost always cheap counterfeits and knockoffs. This year, the Galactic Snackin’ Grogu Animatronic (aka Baby Yoda) and game consoles are some of the items in high demand. Be very cautious when considering purchasing these high-value items from individuals through social sites.
- Puppy Scams: Many families, especially those with children, may be considering adding a furry friend to their household this year. However, you could fall victim to a pet scam, which are on the rise this year. Request to see the pet in person before making a purchase.
More info here: The Naughty List: BBB’s 12 Scams of Christmas