Scammers Prey on Consumers around the Holidays: What to Watch Out For

The holidays bring around good spirits in most of us, but that is also reason why so many fall victim to holiday scams. Know what to look out for.

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This is the time of year when everyone is in a giving mood, which makes it especially easy to fall victim to scams.

Seasonal scams can happen to anyone and it can range from fake charities, a fake letter from Santa package offer to deceit when shopping online. Even the wisest of holiday shoppers and consumers need to stay alert and know what to look out for.

Here’s a highlight of some of seasonal scams reported by the Council of Better Business Bureaus and tips on what to watch out for so you don’t fall victim to these scams or others.

Latest Scams this Season

  • Letter From Santa
    You’ve probably come across it online – an offer to receive a custom letter from Santa Claus. The package may include a certificate that your child has made it on Santa’s nice-list. That’ll sure bring a smile to your child’s face, but it will probably leave you crying when you find out the package from Santa never arrived, and worst you’re out however much you paid for it with your information and credit card details in the scammer’s hands. Some of these scams may not even ask for payment, but the collection of your contact information paves the way to identity theft.

  • Seasonal Contractor
    You get a sudden knock at the door, it’s a contractor who claims to be working on your neighbor’s house. The person tells you, “I noticed the gutters to your roof are filled with leaves. Since I’m already helping your neighbor with clearing their home, how’d you like me to do yours as well?” You think, sure why not. He asks for partial payment to get started and the next thing you know he is never to be seen again.

Precautions to Take
Regardless of what the type of scam, there are precautions all consumers can take.

  • Ignore Calls To Immediate Action.
    Many scams involve a call to immediate actions, meaning a sense of urgency is created where you have to act now or miss the opportunity. Don’t fall for it. Take your time to review and research.

  • Look Up The Business.
    Do your research – check Established businesses and contractors are also more likely to have permanent lettering on trucks, uniforms and they will give you a printed invoice or estimate for a job on letterhead that details their physical address and phone number.

  • Review Donations/Charity.
    There should not be pressure to make an immediate on-the-spot donation whether it’s over the phone or in-person. Legitimate charities will accept donations at any time. Also visit to access reports that summarize rigorous evaluations in relation to 20 holistic BBB Charity Standards that address governance, results reporting, finances and appeal accuracy.

  • Watch For Fake Websites/Links.
    Emails can be easily disguised to appear legitimate. Don’t click on anything you are uncertain of. Also, hover your cursor over the hyperlink in the email to find the true destination. If the email appears to be coming from XYZ company and the link your cursor hovers over shows it’s going to something entirely different and irrelevant, that is warning that it’s probably a scam.

  • Make Secure Payment.
    If you’re going to make payment online, make sure it’s completed through a secure connection. There should be “HTTPS” in the URL and a lock icon in the browser bar. Physical scams often request for payment in cash-only.

  • Keep Watch Ror Misspellings and Grammar.
    Professional businesses care about the information they put out on their website and over email. If what you see is riddled with typos, it’s often a giveaway that you’re dealing with a scam.

[Source: Council of Better Business Bureaus]

Photo by Sanja Gjenero, via Free Images.