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BBB Warns Of Holiday Scams


'Tis the season to be jolly-- and targeted.

The Better Business Bureau has some tips on how to get what you want for the holidays, and not what the scammers want. 

For Tammy Ward at the BBB office in Pensacola, it’s getting more amazing every year.

“The more technology we have it seems like the more opportunity for scammers to try to take our money from us.”

Ward adds that the overall rule of thumb when shopping online for those Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa gifts is to make sure you’re at the retailer’s actual website.

“When you go to put in your credit card information, before you hit ‘submit,’ please make sure that the          URL at the top has ‘https’ and also the lock icon, because that means it’s secure,” said Ward.

Don’t be fooled by holiday phishing scams. Beware of fake shipping notifications, which can have attachments or links to sites that will download identity-theft malware on your devices.

When it comes to so-called electronic, or “E-cards,” look out for a deal in which the sender’s name is not apparent, and you’re required to submit additional information to get the card. And then there’s what Ward calls the “Emergency Scam” – aka “Grandparents Scam.”

“When someone tries to call you and claims to be a family member, a lot of times it’s to the grandparents because they don’t want the parents to know that they are supposedly somewhere where they need money,” Ward said.

The holidays bring out the generosity in many, and scammers try to take advantage of that with bogus charities. You can check out which ones are naughty and which are nice, at www.give.org.

These days, fewer people are immune from holiday scams, including those looking online for part-time work.

“Sometimes there’s a lot of information on your resume, and you really don’t know who’s reading that,” Ward said. “If you have posted your resume, or have received an email because you’ve asked for more information, don’t click on that link. Go to the actual business’ website and see if they actually have a job opening.”

And avoid unusual forms of payment for those purchases, such as prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers, and third parties. Another great-sounding deal is a social media gift exchange – buy one gift and get scads more in return. Ward says it’s just a variation on a pyramid scheme, and as such is illegal.

To find out more about holiday scams or to report one, go to Scam Tracker at www.bbb.org.