Tis the season to be jolly! Unfortunately, the holidays are not a time of rest for scammers and with all of the holiday distractions, they target people hoping that they will be too busy to notice the red flags of a possible scam.
Your Better Business Bureau is urging consumers to remain vigilant and alert during the holiday season for the following scams:
- Holiday Phishing Cons - Around the holidays, beware of emails pretending to be from businesses like UPS, FedEx or major retailers with links to package tracking information. Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments to emails until you have confirmed that they are not malicious. Some emails can infect your computer with a virus or download malware if you click a link. Email addresses that don't match up, typos and grammatical errors are common red flags of a phishing scam. Make sure you have current antivirus software on your computer.
- Fake Puppies for Sale - Scammers create fake websites or online listings claiming to be puppy breeders, luring people in with cute pictures and promises of adopting a healthy puppy. Before the dog can be delivered, the expecting family must pay an adoption fee, shipping costs, insurance, and veterinarian fees via wire transfer. Once money is sent, the puppy never ends up arriving. Remember that if you have a puppy shipped, you don't know anything about it. Arrange to visit and pick up the dog in person. Check the breeder's credentials with BBB and the American Kennel Club and obtain an independent veterinarian checkup to ensure the puppy is healthy before the adoption.
- Identity Theft and ATM Skimmers - While you're struggling with bags of presents, identity thieves may see an opportunity to steal your wallet or look over your shoulder to copy your debit or credit card numbers. Don't let yourself get bogged down in purchases or lose track of your wallet. Know where your credit and debit cards are at all times and cover the keypad when entering your pin number while purchasing items or getting money from an ATM. To steal your credit or debit card information, scammers will install skimming devices at ATMs or put faceplates over payment terminals so they can access your accounts. Make sure you put your card back in your wallet after each purchase.
- Fake Data Breach Claims - Taking advantage of data breach fears, scammers will call pretending to be retailers asking for personal information to "sort things out." If you are unsure of a caller's claims, call the company's known customer service number directly and ask to speak to the fraud department. Since you called the number, you should be safe to give out personal information if asked.
- Too Good To Be True Text Messages - You receive a text message informing you that you've won a Best Buy gift card (or Target, Home Depot or other major retailer). You just need to go to a website and enter a PIN, and the card is yours. The text's URL leads to a website that has the company's colors and logo. It looks authentic with the company's name as the site's subdomain. However, the texts are just a way for scammers to collect personal information and sometimes even financial details, claiming the information is necessary to confirm your identity or cover taxes/shipping of your "free" prize.
The FBI also warning you to be alert, sharing this message on Twitter, "'Tis the season for holiday scams. Be aware of scams, and report any suspicious financial #fraud or internet crime to the #FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at http://ic3.gov."