Looking forward to the holidays? So are the scammers. As many begin to make their holiday gift list and charity donations, unscrupulous scammers are gearing up to deck the halls with their tried and true holiday scams. Better Business Bureau is warning holiday shoppers and donors to know the red flags and to be on their guard for this season’s holiday scams.
“Every year, thousands of shoppers fall victim to the holiday deals that seem too good to be true, and the bogus charity pleas that pull at the heart strings,” says Danielle Primrose, president and CEO for Better Business Bureau serving Mainland British Columbia. “We want to encourage consumers to be vigilant online and when out shopping.”
This holiday season, BBB urges consumers to take the following tips into consideration before doing their holiday shopping and making charity donations:
Always check a business’s BBB Business Review, at www.mbc.bbb.org, before making a purchase in the store or online. Make sure that the company has a physical address and telephone number. When shopping online, some websites offer electronics or luxury goods at prices that are too good to be true. Every holiday season, BBB hears from holiday shoppers who paid for a "great deal" online, but received little or nothing in return.
If you shop Craigslist or other free bulletin board sites, look for local sellers and conduct transactions in person. Bring a friend if you're uncomfortable meeting the seller alone. Never wire money as payment. If you're shopping on auctions, look at seller ratings and read their reviews. Don't buy if the deal sounds too good to be true.
Don't let yourself get bogged down in purchases or lose track of your wallet. While you're struggling with bags of presents, identity thieves may see an opportunity to steal your wallet or look over your shoulder to copy your debit or credit card numbers. Know where your credit and debit cards are at all times and cover the keypad when entering your PIN while purchasing items or getting money from an ATM. Make sure you put your card back in your wallet after each purchase.
Think before you give. Door-to-door solicitations for donations are common this time of year, but when an unfamiliar organization comes knocking asking you for a donation, don’t give without gathering details. Ask for the charity’s name and address, and get full identification from the solicitor and review it carefully. Ask to see written information on the charity’s programs and finances, then visit the Canadian Revenue Agency for a list of registered charities in Canada and confirm they’re legitimate.
Don't click on any links or open any attachments to emails until you have confirmed that they are not malicious. Phishing emails are a common way for hackers to get at your personal information or break into your computer. Around the holidays, beware of e-cards and messages pretending to be from companies like UPS or FedEx with links to package tracking information. Email addresses that don't match up, typos and grammatical mistakes are common red flags of a malicious phishing email. Also beware of unsolicited emails from companies with which you have no association. Make sure you have current antivirus software and that all security patches have been installed on the computer.
For more holiday tips that you can trust, visit www.mbc.bbb.org for a full list of tips.