BBB Warning: How to avoid holiday scams

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau sent out a warning out to help people avoid being scammed this holiday season.

Listed below are scams to watch out for from the BBB:

Be cautious shopping online

Be cautious shopping online. Because many retailers now have chip card readers, fraud at bricks-and-mortar stores is down, so scammers have shifted their efforts online. Use a credit (not debit) card online and only shop on secure websites. Look for https in the address (the extra “s” is for “secure”) and for a 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.

Fake shipping notifications

These can have attachments or links to sites that will download malware on your computer to steal your identity and your passwords. Don’t be fooled by a holiday phishing scam.

E-cards

Electronic cards can be great fun, but be careful. Two red flags to watch out for are: the sender’s name is not apparent; you are required to share additional information to get the card.

Letters from Santa

Several trusted companies offer charming and personalized letters from Santa, but scammers mimic them to get personal information from unsuspecting parents. Check with BBB.org to find out which ones are legitimate.

Emergency scam

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.

Phony charities

Everyone is in a generous mood at the holidays, so scammers take advantage of that with fake charity solicitations in email, on social media sites, and even by text. Check out charities at Give.org before donating.

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 retailers’ main websites 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, third parties, etc. These payments cannot be traced and cannot be undone.

Free gift cards

Pop-up ads or email offering free gift cards are often just a ploy to get your personal information that can later be used for identity theft.

Social media gift exchange

It sounds like a great deal; buy one gift and get 36 in return. But it’s just a variation on a pyramid scheme and it’s illegal.