Christmas scams, Better Business Bureau is making a list, and you better watch out

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Twelve Days of Christmas may be fun for the holidays, but the Better Business Bureau warns there is nothing fun about the 12 scams of Christmas.

This is the time of year when consumer spending kicks into high gear and unfortunately, so do the grifters. But there are certain scams that folks are more likely to fall for and the Better Business Bureau is making a list of the twelve worst.

The Better Business Bureau’s “12 Scams of Christmas” are all web-based, since scams are harder to pull off in the light of a brick-and-mortar business. Topping this year’s list — misleading or fraudulent ads on social media such as Facebook or Instagram that the BBB cautions can saddle you with a gift that keeps on giving.

“There are issues with maybe losing your identity, losing money, fraud on your credit card. So it is always important to make sure you are checking out that website before you pay for anything that you see on a social media ad,” Melanie Mcgovern of the Better Business Bureau said.

Scam number two — social media gift exchanges are usually chain messages, or pyramid schemes, promising more for passing them along, which Melanie McGovern says are illegal.

Scam number three is those holiday apps, such as setting up a direct line to Santa. McGovern said to be wary of the app asking for personal information such as your credit card number.

Number Four is a year-round scam — a scary message warning of a compromised account.

“So when you see that email you are thinking, ‘Oh My God,’ I need to act quickly. When in fact you need to delete that email, go over to the app and check it out and make sure everything is okay,” McGovern added.

Scam Five is free gift cards that are not really free when they require a credit card number.

Six, temporary holiday jobs, that McGovern says you should make sure the job is real.

Seven, Look-Alike websites, where you can end up hitting a wrong key on your keypad.

Eight, fake charities that are offering to donate a portion of their profits to a non-profit, but they actually give up little or nothing.

McGovern says Fake shipping notifications can seem legitimate, but you can spoil the scam by calling the delivery service such as FedEx or the postal service directly. Pop-up holiday virtual events can be checked out, by contacting the host agency.

Holiday Wishlist gifts if they seem too good to be true, they usually are, and puppy or pet scams, McGovern said these are some of the most expensive scams so be extra careful.

McGovern said breeders generally have a waitlist that is years long, so anything quick and cheap is likely a scam. She also said any online payments should use a credit card unless you are sure of who you are paying.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 Action, click here.

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