It’s the most wonderful time of the year for cybercriminals as many consumers are rounding out their end of year giving and getting some last-minute deals with end of year sales. With the increase in online shopping and donation activity due to Covid-19, BBB has seen a dramatic spike in online scams. BBB reminds consumers and donors to use caution when conducting online transactions through the end of the year.
“The holiday season is always a busy time of year for scam artists,” Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB serving Central East Texas said. “This year, scammers are even more active and more successful, with approximately 80 percent of victims reporting financial losses to BBB.”
There are a host of ways scammers take advantage of consumers this time of year. Here are some of the most common, with tips to help you avoid getting ripped off:
Emergency scam, also known as The Grandparent Scam: Use caution if you get a call from a family member or friend claiming to be in an accident, arrested, or hospitalized while traveling in another country. Never send money without confirmation. Call the family member or friend yourself, or ask for very personal information to verify.
Phony charities: Taking advantage of the generous mood during the holidays, scammers often target donors posing as fake charities and nonprofit organizations via solicitations in email, on social media sites, and even by text. Do your research and go to Give.org before making donations.
Shipping scams: If you receive a shipping notification that purports to be with FedEx, UPS or the postal service, double check it against your original purchase information. Scammers sometimes send fake emails with a link reporting shipping issues or attach phony receipts to try to download malware onto your computer. Avoid clicking on links and attachments from unsolicited emails or texts.
Phishing: Unfortunately, phishing attempts often increase during the holidays. Pretending to be with the IRS, debt collection companies or charities may attempt to get your personal information. Be wary of these and other unsolicited calls over the holidays. Don’t click on links or download attachments in emails or text messages.
Gift Card Balance Scams. You receive a gift card and want to check how much money is on it. You search online and find a website that claims to do just that. All you need to do is enter the card’s ID number and PIN or security code. However, when you attempt to use the gift card, the balance has disappeared, as scammers have used the information you provided to drain the money off your card.
If you need to check a gift card balance, go to the site listed on the back of the card itself or go to the company’s website and look for a link to the gift card page.
Find more holiday season do’s and don’ts on the BBB Holiday Tips website. To download the Online Purchase Scams Report, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call BBB at (903) 581-5704 or use BBB Scam Tracker.
About BBB: BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit bbb.org for more information. There are over 100 local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Central East Texas, which was founded in 1985 and serves 19 counties.