Holiday scams alert: Safeguard your wallet and identity during the season
During the holidays, consumers are looking for the best deals, but this can leave you vulnerable to unethical business practices and identity theft.
The Holiday Helper campaign of the Better Business Bureau is a great resource to help consumers stay savvy about the risks they can face during the season. Here are a few scams to be mindful of:
Delivery scams and theft are commonplace during the holidays when more packages are being shipped. The first scam to look out for are phishing emails that appear as official notices from delivery companies. These emails may contain a “tracking link” or a message that the shipper is having difficulty delivering a package to you. Clicking the link either takes you to a form that asks for personal information, or to a site that downloads malware onto your computer.
In another delivery scam, scammers place a fake missed delivery tag on your door that claims they are having difficulty delivering a package to you. They ask you to call a phone number to reschedule your delivery, but it’s really a ruse to get your personal information.
Another issue holiday shoppers face is package theft. Many consumers have had their packages stolen before they arrive home from work. Thieves snatch packages from doorsteps or lobbies of apartment or condo complexes. Criminals even follow delivery and postal trucks. When the truck leaves, the crooks move in and grab the parcels.
Gift Card Scam
Before grabbing a gift card as a last-minute gift, take a closer look. No matter where gift cards are displayed in the store, scammers are known to remove them from the display rack and record the numbers associated with that card, including the activation PIN.
Before purchasing a gift card, carefully examine the packaging for any tears, wrinkles or other indications of tampering, and see if the PIN is exposed. If anything looks suspicious, it’s probably best to take a different card. Just to be safe, turn in the suspicious looking card to the store’s Customer Service Desk.
Hot Toy Scam
There are always a few “hot” toys on most kids’ holiday wish lists. These toys sell out fast, becoming expensive and hard to find so you decide to look online. Your search takes you to a website that by some miracle has the toy in stock. The website may even be offering a last-minute deal or flash sale. Consider these red flags.
Unfortunately, many of these offers are fake. Consumers order the toy online, but it never arrives. When they try to follow up with the company, they find that the website lacks working contact information or has disappeared.
The best way to avoid getting scammed when purchasing toys is to buy them directly from a seller you know and trust. If a company appears legitimate but you aren’t familiar with it, make sure the company has a working customer service number before offering up your name, address and credit card information.
You can view and report scams via the BBB Scam Tracker and follow the BBB of Upstate SC on Facebook for up-to-date information on area scam alerts.
About the Author
Vee Daniel is President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau Upstate SC. Prior to joining the BBB, Daniel served as Director of Events & Membership Services for the Home Builders Association of South Carolina and Executive Officer of the Home Builders Association of Greater Spartanburg.