Stephanie Garland: Scammers prey on holiday shoppers who buy early gifts | New
Holidays are about celebrating what is good, but that doesn’t mean crooks are taking a vacation. Better Business Bureau uses this first opportunity to remind consumers that scammers see busy and overworked buyers as likely targets for their projects.
Here are some common scams during the holidays:
• Online Shopping Scams: Everyone wants the best deals on gifts, but some websites have electronics or luxury goods at prices too good to be true. Every year, BBB receives testimonials from buyers who have paid a lot online but received little or nothing in return. BBB advises buyers to look for trust seals, such as the BBB Accredited Business seal, when shopping online. Click on the seals to determine if they are legitimate. A click on the BBB seal should take you directly to a company’s BBB Company Profile, which includes an A + to F rating, the company’s time in business, contact details, and more valuable information. You should also look for a physical address for any online business and a phone number. All pages where you enter personal or financial information must have a web address or URL starting with https: // to indicate that this is a secure site.
• Online Toy & Gadget Ads: When stocks of a popular item are scarce, you can find the items on sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or eBay, but at a much higher price. In some cases, these sellers will take your money but not ship the item, leaving you with no gift or money to buy it elsewhere. BBB advises buyers to seek out local sellers and transact in person. Bring a friend and meet in a public place if you are uncomfortable meeting the seller alone. If you must buy online, research sellers thoroughly and be skeptical of offers that sound too good to be true. Never wire money to someone you don’t know.
• Identity theft at the mall: If you have trouble with gift bags, identity thieves may see an opportunity to steal your wallet or look over your shoulder to copy debit card numbers or credit. Always make sure you know the location of your wallet and cards. Be sure to cover keyboards when entering PIN codes and put your card back in your wallet or purse after each purchase.
• Bogus Charitable Advocates: Holidays are a great time to give back, but some scammers take advantage of the generosity by soliciting similar charities that don’t keep their promises. Before you donate, check out a charity’s BBB Charity Review at bbb.org.
• Phishing emails: False messages about parcel delivery issues allegedly from companies like UPS, Federal Express, or large online retailers are a way for criminals to trick consumers into revealing personal information. or sensitive financial. If you receive an email like this, check with the sender or retailer through their official website rather than clicking the links in the suspicious email. Beware of unsolicited emails from companies you don’t know or haven’t visited before.
These are just a few of the most common scams while on vacation. BBB Scam Tracker is a great place to research and report scams. For more tips on being a smart shopper this holiday season, visit bbb.org or call (417) 862-4222.
Stephanie Garland is director of the Better Business Bureau in Springfield. Some of the counties served by BBB Springfield include Jasper, Newton, McDonald, Lawrence and Barton counties. Emails can be sent to [email protected]