For most people, the holidays are a time of giving. However, this isn’t the case for scammers.
The holiday season is an opportune time for a scammer to strike an unsuspecting individual. During this time of year, consumers need to stay vigilante and make sure they know the signs of a holiday scam.
Better Business Bureau offers tips on avoiding holiday scams:
• Watch out for holiday phishing cons. Beware of emails pretending to be from major shipping retailers with links to package tracking information. Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments to emails until you have confirmed they are not malicious. Some emails can infect your computer with a virus or download malware. Email addresses that don’t match up, typos and grammatical errors are common red flags of a phishing scam.
• Be wary of “Dear Santa” scams. While there are legitimate organizations and businesses that sell letters from Santa, con artists are also in the market to steal personal information.
• Avoid look-alike websites. Watch out for URLs that use the names of well-known brands.
• Look out for fake 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. Check out charities at bbb.org before donating.
• Think twice about social media gift exchanges. Purchasing one gift and receiving several in return may sound harmless. But, this seasonal scam is a pyramid scheme, which is illegal.
• Be wary of anyone who asks you to pay for holiday purchases using prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers, third parties, etc. These payments cannot be traced and cannot be undone.
• Look out for skimming devices. Scammers will install skimming devices at ATMs or put faceplates over payment terminals so they can access your accounts.
• Use caution when applying for temporary holiday jobs. Many businesses require extra help with the holiday rush and often seek temporary employees. But, beware of fraudsters who attempt to glean personal information from applicants or ask you to pay for a job lead.
• Watch out for travel scams. Scammers use the holidays as a guise to offer free vacations to unsuspecting individuals. If a travel offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
• Beware of emergency scams. Scammers pretend to be a family member in an emergency circumstance, such as being in an accident, in jail or stuck in another country to trick sympathetic loved ones out of their hard-earned money.
Scammers come out of the woodwork during the holidays because people usually let their guard down. That’s why it’s imperative you know the signs of a holiday scam. Not only to protect yourself but your family as well. Don’t be taken advantage of this holiday season.
Report scams to BBB Scam Tracker (www.bbb.org/scamtracker). This online tool allows consumers to report and track scams. The data shared with Scam Tracker can be shared with law enforcement and provides consumers with the latest scam trends.
You also can checkout businesses and charities by visiting www.bbb.org or calling 937-222-5825 or 800-776-5301.
The writer is the president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Dayton and Miami Valley.