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Top Christmas scams to watch for

Posted at 12:09 PM, Dec 20, 2019

Many of us are now waiting for packages, or have just sent one, or are scrambling to finish our holiday shopping.

That makes us prime targets for Christmas season scammers, who know that many shoppers let their guard down this time of year.

So the Better Business Bureau is once again warning about some of the top scams to watch for this year. Among them:

1: Fake Amazon, FedEx or UPS delivery notices. They show up in your email, and claim you have a package waiting, or a problem with your delivery.

Even if you are expecting a delivery, you need to be very suspicious, and check the URL of the email sender to make sure they are really that business.

2: Porch pirates, thieves who grab packages outside homes, often minutes after delivery.

By now, we have all seen the Ring doorbell cam videos of people grabbing boxes on doorsteps. For safety's sake, have them delivered to a neighbor's home, a relative, or to your workplace if you will not be home. Or use "ship to store" if it is from Best Buy, Target, or Walmart.

With Amazon, look for an Amazon pickup locker near you.

3. The puppy scam, where a Craigslist seller wants you to pay shipping for Christmas puppies that don't exist. The puppies are supposedly in Los Angeles or somewhere else where you need to wire $500 to have them shipped and insured.

4: Fake apps from department stores, that can hijack your phone. Make sure you are downloading the store's real app from either their website or iTunes.

5: The Secret Sister Gift Exchange on Facebook. Supposedly if you buy a gift for someone (ie: send money), 8 people will send you gifts in return (ie: money). They won't.

6: Phony mystery shopper jobs, that send you a check for $1,000 to "test" Money Gram counter at Walmart or other stores. The check will bounce, and you will lose hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

7: Bogus government grants. The government is not handing out grants, especially via a message on Facebook.

The "agent" who contacts you is a scammer. And if one of your best friends says they got a grant and you can too, chances are that your friend's Facebook page was hacked.

8: Phony e-cards. This is one of the oldest internet scams, going back to the late 1990's. Be careful downloading any -card. Better yet, ask your friend if they really sent you one.

9: Email letters from Santa, that can be stuffed with malware. Another oldie-but-goodie from the early years of the internet. Only open one if you know a relative sent your child one.

The BBB says it's so easy to click and get scammed this time of year, because we are all so busy, and not paying close attention.

So be skeptical of email messages and invites this week, so you don't fall victim to a scam and you don't waste your money.


This story was originally published by WCPO's John Matarese

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