BBB’s Naughty List: 5 holiday scams and how to avoid them

ID-100221118The holiday season certainly makes most of us feel merry and bright, but it can also bring out scammers looking to take advantage of you. Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin wants people to beware of the following five scams and frauds this holiday season.

  1. Fake websites promising fake deals. Some scammers will send fake emails or advertisements promising unheard of deals for a product, leading you to a fake website that steals your credit card information when you try to check out. Protect yourself by staying away from deals that are too good to be true, checking the URL and checking BBB’s Business Directory before buying.
  2. Santa letter scheme.While some legitimate companies sell letters from Santa Claus, some scammers are using this idea to steal credit card and personal information from unsuspecting consumers. When looking for a customized letter, research different companies and go to their sites straight from your browser, not from emails or social media.
  3. Fake gift cards.Gift cards are the most popular holiday gift, but also the most susceptible to fraud. Criminals will go to a store and record the activation code on a gift card. After checking if the gift card is still valid online, fraudsters can use the online code to cash the gift card for resalable products. Before buying, make sure the security code on the gift card is scratch-free and look for gift cards that come in an unopened, plastic container.
  4. False data breaches. Taking advantage of data breach fears, scammers will call pretending to be retailers asking for personal information to “sort things out.” If an incident does occur, the company will alert its consumers through their website or social media and will not call the consumer directly. If you are unsure, call the customer service number and ask to speak to the fraud department. Since you called the correct number, you should be safe to give out personal information if asked.
  5. Card skimmers. 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. When shopping, stay alert by keeping your cards in sight and covering the screen when entering your pin.