buyers beware

Beware The Holiday Scams

The spectrum of scams all demand the same attention: Vigilence & Caution

December 10, 2016 — With all the hustle and bustle of the season, holiday scams are at an all-time high this time of year.

Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern MA, ME, RI, & VT (BBB) is warning the community of counterfeit products, phishing emails, and more scams to avoid this holiday season.

Counterfeit Products

Counterfeit products are common at pop-up stores and markets — places where scammers can sell items that claim to be a certain brand without fear of getting caught. Shopping for brand-name products at these locations sounds like a better deal than purchasing from a reputable website or store, however it’s only cheaper because it’s manufactured differently, which could result in faulty products.

“Purchasing these counterfeit items only funds the scammer so that they can continue to manufacture these products,” said Paula Fleming, Chief Marketing & Sales Officer for the local BBB. “Shoppers are left with items that are more expensive than they’re worth due to fake branding and poor manufacturing.”

Search BBB’s Accredited Business directory for shops that sell the brand you’re looking for to ensure you’re getting the best deals on quality items without the fear of buying a fake.

Tracking Scams

Shoppers are eager to track their shipment after ordering online, and scammers are aware of this. Scammers create fake emails asking the shopper to download an invoice or tracking information, or send fake alerts that their order can not be delivered or a delivery attempt was made.

Fake Email

These types of phishing scams commonly ask the recipient to download an attachment or click a link that contains malware that will steal your personal information and passwords.

Some scammers use names similar to well-known shipping services. An easy way to tell the difference between a real site and a fake is to check for spelling and grammar mistakes, as well as, looking at the URL. The United States Postal Service and Fedex both use the prefix “https” in the URL box listing the website’s address, ensuring its security.

BBB offers the following tips to avoid holiday scams this season:

  • Shopping Online: Because many retailers now have chip card readers, fraud at brick-and-mortar stores is down, so scammers have shifted their efforts online. Use a credit card online and only shop on secure websites. Look for https in the address (the extra “s” is for “secure”) and lock symbol.
  • Look-alike Websites: When shopping online, make sure to use only legitimate websites. Watch out for URLs that use the names of well-known brands along with extra words.
  • Letters from Santa: Several trusted businesses offer personalized letters from Santa, but scammers mimic them to get personal information from unsuspecting parents. Check here to find out which ones are legitimate.
  • Emergency Scams: Be cautious 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 unless you confirm with another family member that it’s true.
  • Temporary Holiday Jobs: Retailers and delivery services need extra help at the holidays, but beware of solicitations that require you to share personal information online or pay for a job lead. Apply in person or go to the retailer’s main website to find out who is hiring.
  • Unusual Forms of Payment: Be wary of anyone who asks you to pay for holiday purchases using prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers, etc. These payments cannot be traced and cannot be undone.
  • Free Gift Cards: Pop-up ads or emails offering free gift cards are often just a ploy to get your personal information that can later be used for identity theft.
Shoppers are left with items that are more expensive than they’re worth due to fake branding and poor manufacturing.

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ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses and brands they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses, all available for free here.
The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. BBB Serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont was founded in 1920.