Only 12 days until Christmas and although the holiday may bring out the best in people, it can also bring about scammers to take advantage of your generosity. Better Business Bureau of North Alabama wants our local residents to beware of the following scams and frauds this holiday season.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, a scammer gave to me:
Twelve malware e-cards. Viruses and malware often travel in e-mail attachments or links. Don't click on an e-mail from someone you don't know or a name you don't recognize. When in doubt, delete the e-card or e-mail.
Eleven stranded grandkids. It's the classic "grandparent scam." If someone claiming to be your grandchild, relative or friend calls or sends you an e-mail saying they were robbed or hurt overseas, check to verify it's true before wiring money.
Ten counterfeit gifts. Low prices on luxurious goods are almost always cheap counterfeits. Counterfeit transactions are illegal and harmful for brand owners.
Nine pickpockets. When out shopping, keep your purse or wallet secure. Avoid putting shopping bags down, even for a moment. Thieves are watching and waiting for the perfect moment to snatch up your items, wallet or purse.
Eight stolen gift cards. If you are buying gift cards for someone this holiday season, make sure you are buying from reputable dealers. It’s easy for a scammer to sell you a card and then use the funds before you even have the chance to give the card as a gift.
Seven fake coupons. Be cautious when downloading coupons. Always make sure you are at a retailer's real website. Be especially careful with coupon sites that ask for personal information.
Six Santa scammers. What could be jollier than a letter from Santa emailed directly to your child? Before clicking through, make sure the site is real and not gathering your data for identity theft purposes.
Five fake charities. Charities count on end-of-year giving, so be generous if you can. But be careful too, because scammers set up fake charities that often have similar sounding names to legitimate charities.
Four bogus websites. It's easy to mimic a real website. Some red flags you might find on a copy website are: if ‘http’ is displayed in the address bar instead of the more secure ‘https’; the website does not list contact information; or they are asking for payment by wire or money card.
Three travel scams. With busy holiday travel, bargains on airfare or trips may be tempting. Be cautious when booking through online ads, never wire money to someone you don't know and ask for references of trusted travel agencies or website from friends and family members.
Two phony loves. Everyone wants a special someone under the mistletoe, so the holidays are a prime time for scams. Be careful when finding an online sweetheart especially one that gets cozy too fast and asks for money.
And a totally fictitious puppy. Who doesn't want a new puppy for the holidays? But be careful buying pets online; you may end up getting a puppy mill pooch with problems, or you may pay for your new pet online and get nothing at all because it was a scam.