Top 12 Schemes of the Holidays

Gifts and appeals may seem like true love, but Better Business Bureau says be aware of the top 12 schemes of the holidays:

12. Trip Troubles: Before visiting relatives, evade overly enticing travel deals. Watch out for unexpected hotel and flight “confirmation” or “cancellation” notices—which trick consumers into clicking unsafe links to “stop” unreal reservations.

11. Getaway Goons: When shopping or vacationing, don’t become a target for theft. Guard belongings, be observant and pack lightly. Avoid broadcasting travel plans or empty homes on social networks—as it may entice burglars.

10. Cheating Charities: Be skeptical of seasonal charitable solicitors who use high pressure tactics, won’t answer basic donation questions or can’t provide proof of charity affiliation. Don’t trust solicitations with invoices for past due payments.

9. Good-For-Nothing Gift Cards: Avoid purchasing from disreputable third parties and examine gift cards closely for terms, restrictions, fees and expiration dates. Use cards early as they may become non-redeemable if retailers go out of business.

8. Gotta-Have Goodies and Gadgets: Dodge deceptive deals and “free” offers on desirable toys, jewelry and electronics in audacious auctions, classified ad sites, social media posts, pop-up ads, online coupons, sweepstakes and surveys.

7. Cruel Credit Catches: During the big spending season, discard ads and offers for high-interest credit cards, costly layaway programs and payday loan traps.

6. Jester Jobs: Laugh off limited-time job offers for high-paying mystery shopping gigs and online work-at-home tasks. “Employers” may steal data from applications, fail to send start-up materials or induce paycheck money transfer schemes.

5. Suspicious Santa Sites: Steer away if “Santa” requests unnecessary personal data, doesn’t abide by advertising laws or fails to disclose contact details and privacy policies.

4. Dodgy Domains: Dangers may be hiding in holiday-themed articles, music, screensavers and other downloads. Before surfing the Web, social media sites or emails, update anti-virus protection and check firewalls. Avoid shopping or banking online on unsecured Wi-Fi networks at public places, like airports and hotels.

3. Hacking Holiday E-Cards: Do not click links or attachments in e-cards and other holiday greetings from unfamiliar senders. Ensure spam filters are set.

2. Bogus Bank Emails: Disregard sudden emails or text messages about bank account issues. Instead, contact banks or financial institutions directly to verify.

1. Deceiving Deliveries: Don’t accept notices about delivery delays or confirmations on unordered packages; phishers and smishers often pose as well-known retailers or shipping companies to gain false credibility.