The Twelve Scams of Christmas

Be vigilant and don’t let unethical con artists steal your money, identity or holiday spirit.

by TERRI BRYCE REEVES

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has identified the top scams of the season,
as listed below. To be safe, verify the legitimacy of any company in question
with the BBB. If you feel like you are a victim of a crime, file a complaint with
the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov/default.aspx)

1. Grandparent scams – In this cruel con, scammers target seniors and claim
their grandchild has been in an accident, arrested or hospitalized. The thief will
usually ask for money, credit card numbers or gift cards to resolve the situation.

2. Santa letters – Be wary of unsolicited emails offering personalized letters
from Santa. While some legitimate businesses provide this service, other copycat
scammers are merely looking to gain credit card and personal information from
unsuspecting parents and grandparents.

3. Fake websites – Con artists often put up websites that look like the real thing
in an attempt to steal your personal information or to download malware. Never
click the email’s link; instead, go to the official website of the business. Only
enter sensitive information on a site that begins with “https” as the “s” means it’s
secure.

4. Puppy scams – See a cute picture of a puppy for sale at a too-good-to-be-true
price? Do an image search online and if multiple websites popup, it’s probably
a scam. Buy only from reputable breeders.

5. Social media gift exchange – Purchasing one gift and receiving several
in return may sound like a harmless way to give and receive presents, but this
seasonal scam is a pyramid scheme and illegal.

6. Romance scams  Be wary of those who seem to fall in love very quickly
but resist talking on the phone or meeting you in person. If they ask for money,
run. Always meet in a public place.

7. Temporary holiday jobs – Never follow a link on a job website; go directly to
the company website instead. Be wary of anyone asking for personal information
or who offers a “paycheck” before you have met in person.

8. Free gift cards – If you get an email offering free gift cards, don’t click on
any links or share personal information.

9. Holiday e-cards – Don’t open an email where you’re asked to enter personal
information or if it includes an attachment that ends in “.exe” as it could download
a virus.

10. Phony charities – Phony charities are ubiquitous this time of year. Verify a
charity at Give.org before contributing.

11. Unusual forms of payment – Be wary of anyone asking for forms of
payment such as prepaid debit or gift cards, wire transfers, or transactions that
involve third parties.

12. Travel scams – To avoid these “bargains,” be cautious of email offers and
never wire money to someone you don’t know.

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