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BBB Scam Alert: Holiday scams and how to avoid them

BBB Scam Alert: Holiday scams and how to avoid them
BBB Scam Alert: Holiday scams and how to avoid them
BBB Scam Alert: Holiday scams and how to avoid them

It’s truly the most wonderful time of the year, but that’s also true for scammers who find the holiday season an opportune time to take advantage of shoppers.

For example, reports of holiday décor scams have become numerous across the Upstate this year, according to Vee Daniel, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of the Upstate.

“You’re searching for holiday decorations for your home or lawn and you find a sponsored ad on social media with a large, beautiful wreath,” Daniel said. “Belk has one like it for $100, but this sponsored ad lists it for $20. When it comes in the mail, it’s a little bitty wreath that is nothing like what appeared online.”

When this happens, there typically is no way to return items and receive a refund, and you likely will not be able to contact the company, Daniel said.

Here are tips from BBB Upstate on how to avoid holiday décor scams:

Do your research before you buy. Before purchasing from an unfamiliar website, check out the company to make sure there is a telephone number, email address and preferably, a physical address. Look for reviews of the company and reports of scams.

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Be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. Keep in mind that large decorations that include special lights and technology are expensive. If you find something amazing that is cheap, it could be a scam.

Don’t make quick purchases on social media. Scammers can track your buying habits from social media ads, then target you with specific products. Don’ buy on impulse while scrolling through your social media feed. Do research first to avoid being scammed.

Always use your credit card for online purchases. Credit card companies allow you to dispute fraudulent charges, which may not be available when using a debit or gift card.

Delivery scams and theft also are prevalent at the holidays when more packages are being shipped, Daniel said.

Beware of phishing texts or emails that pose as “official notices” from delivery companies. These contain either a tracking link or a message that the shipper is having difficulty delivering a package to you. Clicking the link will take you to a form that asks for personal information or to a site that downloads malware onto your computer.

Another delivery scam involves fake “missed delivery” tags. Scammers place a note on your door that claims they are trying to deliver a package to you. You’re instructed to call a phone number to reschedule a delivery but it’s a ruse to get your personal information.

Another issue shoppers face is package theft. Many consumers have their packages stolen before they arrive home from work. Porch pirates follow delivery trucks into neighborhoods and snatch packages from doorsteps and apartment lobbies.

Here are tips from BBB Upstate on how to avoid delivery scams:

Purchase shipping insurance and always get a tracking number. Use the number to periodically check shipping progress.

Beware of texts, calls or emails about a missed delivery. Legitimate delivery services usually leave a missed delivery notice on your door. If you receive an online notice, don’t click on any links. Go to the delivery carrier’s website directly to use the retailer’s tracking tools.

Request a signature. This feature may come with an extra fee, but it’s worth it. The delivery service won’t be able to leave the package on your doorstep without someone signing for it.

Don’t leave packages sitting on your doorstep. Have packages delivered to your workplace rather than your home or ask a neighbor who will be home to retrieve packages for safekeeping. Some delivery companies now have lockers where your packages can be kept until you retrieve them with a one-time code to open the locker.

If you are a victim of fraud, you can report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker.

To contact the Better Business Bureau of the Upstate, call (864) 242-5052 or email info@upstatesc.bbb.org.

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