BBB’s 12 Scams of Christmas

You’ve heard of the “12 Days of Christmas,” but what about the 12 Scams of Christmas?

While you’re busy shopping, gift-wrapping and making holiday cookies, unscrupulous scammers are busy finding their next victim. BBB doesn’t want it to be you.

Here are the top 12 scams to be aware of this holiday season:

On the first day of Christmas, the scammers gave to me look-alike websites.

When stores sell out, you may find the items online on different websites than the official retailers. Remember, it’s easy to mimic a real website. Some red flags are the webpage is in http format, not the secure https, no contact information and even asking for payment by wire or money card. Some sellers will take your money and run, leaving you without the gift or money to buy it elsewhere.

On the second day of Christmas, the scammers gave to me fake shipping notifications.

Scammers send fake email shipping notifications and pose as FedEx, UPS or the postal service. These can have attachments or links to sites that will download malware on your computer to steal your identity and your passwords. Don’t be fooled by this holiday phishing scam.

On the third day of Christmas, the scammers gave to me social media gift exchanges.

“Secret Sister” gift exchange and similar invitations circulate on social media sites, in particular Facebook. Purchasing one gift and receiving 36 sounds like a great deal, but this seasonal scam is actually a pyramid scheme, which is illegal.

On the fourth day of Christmas, the scammers gave to me phony charities.

Everyone is in a generous mood during the holidays, so scammers take advantage of that by setting up fake charities with similar sounding names, and solicit via email, social media and text. Check out charities with BBB Wise Giving Alliance at before donating.

On the fifth day of Christmas, the scammers gave to me grandparent scams.

Seniors should be cautious if they get a call for a grandchild claiming to be in an accident, arrested or hospitalized while traveling in another country. Never send money unless you confirm with another family member that it’s true.

On the sixth day of Christmas, the scammers gave to me letters from Santa.

Several trusted companies offer charming and personalized letters from Santa, but scammers mimic them to get personal information from unsuspecting parents. Check with to find out which ones are legitimate.

On the seventh day of Christmas, the scammers gave to me temporary holiday jobs.

Retailers and delivery services need extra help at the holidays but beware of solicitations that require you to share personal information online or pay for a job lead. Apply in person or go to retailer’s main website to find out who is hiring.

On the eighth day of Christmas, the scammers gave to me unusual forms of payment.

Be wary of anyone who asks you to pay for holiday purchases using prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers, third parties, etc. These payments cannot be traced and cannot be undone.

On the ninth day of Christmas, the scammers gave to me 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.

On the tenth day of Christmas, the scammers gave to me travel scams.

With busy holiday travel, bargains may be tempting. Before you book make sure you are booking through a reputable and verifiable website. Also, be wary of online ads, and never wire money to someone you don’t know.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, the scammers gave to me e-cards.

Electronic cards can be great fun but be careful. Two red flags to watch out for are: the sender’s name is not apparent; you are required to share additional information to get the card.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the scammers gave to me puppy scams.

Be very careful buying pets online, especially during the holidays. You may get a puppy mill pooch with problems, or you may get nothing at all because the dog never existed, and it was a scam. Always research where you are buying the dog from and be sure to pick it up in person instead of paying someone to ship it.





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