The holiday season is here and unfortunately so are scammers. Just like the Grinch they are looking to steal your holiday joy. Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin is warning of fraudulent websites offering a “Letter from Santa.” Some of these sites promise a custom letter from jolly Saint Nick himself, but don’t deliver.
The con artist will attempt to get your attention with an email selling a handwritten letter from Santa to your child. It encourages you to make your child’s holiday by purchasing “Santa’s special package” for $19.99.
If you click on the link it takes you to a website that promises a special package containing an official “nice-list” certification and customized letter from Santa. There may even be a free shipping special that ends “in just few hours”. If you purchase the item and enter your credit card information, you are out the $19.99. Plus, you just shared your credit card information with scammers, who can potentially use it for identity theft.
In another version of this scam, the site promises a free letter from Santa. It doesn’t request any credit card information, but it does require plenty of personal information, such as your full name, address and phone number. These sites can then turn around and sell your personal information to spammers.
BBB offers this advice for spotting an online scam:
- Do your research. Check out the business at bbb.org and do a quick web search.
- Ignore calls for immediate action. Many scams try to get you to act before you think by creating a sense of urgency (including the scam above). Don’t fall for it.
- Hover over links in emails to check their source. Scammers will make links look like something else. Place your mouse over hyper-linked text and the true destination will appear, which in the case of a scam website, may be a long jumbled URL address.
- Make sure the website has verifiable contact information. If something goes wrong with your order, you need to be able to contact the business. When in doubt, confirm that the address and phone number are real.
- Make sure you pay through a secure connection. When entering credit card information online, be sure that the URL starts with “HTTPS” and has a lock icon in the browser bar.
- Watch for poor grammar and spelling. Scam emails and websites often are riddled with typos. This is often a giveaway that you aren’t dealing with a real business.