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10 ways scammers plan on ruining your holiday season

Posted: 3:20 PM, Nov 17, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-18 17:43:57Z

You're busy preparing for the holidays and the scam artists are too. 

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping around the corner, the Better Business Bureau is urging you to watch out for these common holiday scams. 

  1. Look-alike websites: Be sure the site is legitimate. Watch out for URLs that use names of well-known brands along with extra words. Look for "https" and a lock symbol in the web address. Also, remember to use a credit (not debit) card for online purchases. 
  2. Fake shipping notifications: Don't click on them because these pop-ups can have attachments or links that will download malware to your computer and steal your personal information.
  3. E-cards: Beware of two red flags — the sender's name is not clearly visible or you are required to share personal information to get the card.
  4. Letters from Santa: Some trusted companies offer personalized letters from Santa, but scammers can mimic them to get personal information from unsuspecting parents.
  5. Emergency scams: If you get a call from a family member or friend claiming to be arrested, in an accident or hospitalized while traveling, never send money unless you can confirm the incident. These scams typically target the elderly.
  6. Phony charities: People are usually in the giving spirit during the holiday season and scammers take advantage of that with fake charity emails, social media pages and even text messages. Verify charities at Give.org
  7. Temporary holiday jobs: Retailers are looking for extra help during the holidays, but watch out for links requiring you to share personal information online or pay for a job lead. If you can, apply in person or go to the store's main website to find out who and where they're hiring. 
  8. Unusual forms of payment: Give a side eye to anyone asking you to pay for holiday purchases using prepaid debit cards, wire transfers, third parties, etc. These payments cannot be traced or undone.
  9. Free gift cards: Pop-up ads or emails offering free gift cards are often just a ploy to get your personal information that can later be used for identity theft.
  10. Social media gift exchange: "Buy one gift card, get 20 back." If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Beware of sentimental scams like the Secret Sister Gift Exchange  floating around on Facebook. 

Last year, consumers spent $7.9 billion on Black Friday and another $6.6 billion online for Cyber Monday, according to the BBB.  

For more information on holiday scams or to report one, visit the BBB Scam Tracker .