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Identity & Community

Better Business Bureau Urges Holiday Shoppers to Look Out for Scams

It wouldn’t be an American holiday without con artists trying to scam innocent online shoppers.

This holiday season, keep on the lookout for warning signs that might indicate you’re being targeted by a scammer.   

The most prominent scam this year is the fake package delivery email, according to Caitlin Driscoll, public relations director for the Better Business Bureau of Western Pennsylvania. These emails claim they contain links to package tracking information, but are really out to break into your computer.

“This is a common way that hackers will obtain peoples personal and financial information,” Driscoll said. “Around the holidays, they are sending out emails pretending to be from such delivery businesses as UPS, FedEx and even major retailers.”

To catch this, don’t clink on any links or attachments to emails until you have verified they are actually from trusted companies, which can be done by contacting them directly.

Grammatical mistakes in the email titles and email addresses that don’t match with the companies are both red flags.

Another scam this season is fake letters from Santa, which are typically purchased by parents for their children.

“While there are legitimate organizations and businesses that do sell these letters from Santa, con artists take advantage of the time of year and will send out fake emails, set up fake websites that are really just to steal your credit card information,” Driscoll said.

Before you buy letters from Santa, read the website’s privacy policy to see how your child’s personal information will be used.

Those who want to adopt a puppy this Christmas should also be careful, according to Driscoll. Scammers lure buyers with cute pictures and promises of adopting a healthy puppy, and then hit them with charges without delivering the animal.

“Before the dog can be delivered, the expecting family has to pay an exorbitant adoption fee, cover the shipping costs, insurance and veterinarian fees up front, and the payment is asked to be made via wire transfer or sometimes even a prepaid debit card,” Driscoll said.

Scams are prevalent during the holiday season because scammers are quick to take advantage of people’s generosity.

“Many people are just too busy to spot the different warning signs of a scam,” Driscoll said, “which is why it is so important for people to still remain vigilant and just remember that scammers don’t take a rest from the different tried and true scams that we continue to see surface every single holiday season.”