According to the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama, holiday scams are getting harder to catch.
Many people are preparing for the holiday season by participating in Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but what people don’t know is scam artists are doing the same. The BBB of North Alabama says educating yourself of local scams is imperative.
Here’s a look at the top 10 scams to look out for this season:
1. Look-alike websites: Be sure the site is legitimate. Watch out for URLs that use names of well-known brands along with extra words. Look for “https” and a lock symbol in the web address. Also, remember to use a credit (not debit) card for online purchases.
2. Fake shipping notifications: Don’t click on them because these pop-ups can have attachments or links that will download malware to your computer and steal your personal information.
3. E-cards: Beware of two red flags — the sender’s name is not clearly visible or you are required to share personal information to get the card.
4. Letters from Santa: Some trusted companies offer personalized letters from Santa, but scammers can mimic them to get personal information from unsuspecting parents.
5. Emergency scams: If you get a call from a family member or friend claiming to be arrested, in an accident or hospitalized while traveling, never send money unless you can confirm the incident. These scams typically target the elderly.
6. Phony charities: People are usually in the giving spirit during the holiday season and scammers take advantage of that with fake charity emails, social media pages and even text messages. Verify charities at Give.org.
7. Temporary holiday jobs: Retailers are looking for extra help during the holidays, but watch out for links requiring you to share personal information online or pay for a job lead. If you can, apply in person or go to the store’s main website to find out who and where they’re hiring.
8. Unusual forms of payment: Give a side eye to anyone asking you to pay for holiday purchases using prepaid debit cards, wire transfers, third parties, etc. These payments cannot be traced or undone.
9. 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.
10. Social media gift exchange: “Buy one gift card, get 20 back.” If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Beware of sentimental scams like the Secret Sister Gift Exchange floating around on Facebook.
Last year, consumers spent $7.9 billion on Black Friday and another $6.6 billion online for Cyber Monday, according to the BBB.