With Christmas shopping heating up, it's important to not fall for those unbelievable deals that you can't believe are real, because they might not be.
The Better Business Bureau is cautioning consumers to be careful this holiday season and not fall to any scammers.
According to Wes Lafortune, the Media and Communications Specialist for the Better Business Bureau said lots of money has been stolen so far this year.
"There have been losses this year so far of more than $300 million. That's probably scratching the surface. It's probably many magnitudes of that number."
With people preparing for Christmas and of course, spending lots of money shopping, it's important to know some of the more popular scams so far this year.
According to the Better Business Bureau, these are the top 12 scams of Christmas:
1. Misleading social media ads: As you scroll through your social media feed, you often see items for sale from a small business. The 2022 BBB Online Scams Report found 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.
2. Holiday apps: Holiday-themed apps where children can video chat live with Santa, light the menorah, watch Santa feed live reindeer, track his sleigh on Christmas Eve, or relay their holiday wish lists. 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.
3. Alerts about compromised accounts: BBB has been receiving reports on Scam Tracker about 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.
4. 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. In some of these emails, scammers impersonate legitimate companies like Starbucks and promise gift cards to loyal customers that have been supporting their business throughout the pandemic. They may also use pop-up ads or send text messages with links saying you were randomly selected as the winner for a prize.
5. Temporary holiday jobs: Retailers typically hire seasonal workers to help meet the demands of holiday shoppers. Shippers and delivery services are top holiday employers this year because of the increase in online orders and the need to get most of these packages delivered before Christmas. These jobs are a great way to make extra money, sometimes with the possibility of turning into a long-term employment opportunity. However, job seekers 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.
6. 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.
7. Fake charities: Typically, 40% of all charitable donations are received during the last few weeks of the year. Donors are advised to look out 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. Verify a charity at BBB's Give.org or on the Canada Revenue Agency website. Where possible, donate to the charity through their website and use a credit card.
8. Fake shipping notifications: More consumers are making purchases online, and 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.
9. Top holiday wish list items: Low or ridiculously-priced luxury goods, jewelry, designer clothing, and electronics are almost always cheap counterfeits and knockoffs. Be very cautious when considering purchasing high-value items from individuals through social sites.
10. 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 pet scams, which are on the rise this year. Request to see the pet in person before making a purchase.
11. Emergency or Grandparent scams: This happens when you get a call out of the blue from a stranger, usually posing as a person in authority claiming that a loved one is in some sort of trouble. Often a car accident or they have been arrested while on a holiday. Don't fall for it. Don’t engage and don’t make large cash withdrawals to send to strangers.
12. Romance scams: This can happen any time of the year but for some of us the holidays can be a time of vulnerability. If you are engaging in online chats and the person asks for money or to make an investment stop the contact. This is a scam.
"A great way to avoid online shopping scams is actually supporting your local businesses in your community. So go support those businesses shop locally, that money goes directly into the local economy," mentioned Lafortune.
He also wanted to remind Airdronians to be aware of where they're shopping, rely on reliable websites and don't make rash decisions.
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