Better Business Bureau releases list of 12 common scams this Christmas season

For example, the BBB warns that pop-up ads or email offering free gift cards are often just a ploy to get personal information that can later be used for identity theft.

iStock / Special to The Forum

The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota has released "The Naughty List," a list of 12 common scams this Christmas season. Included on the list are:

  1. Look-alike websites: When stores sell out, you may find the items online on different websites than the official retailer's. The BBB warns that some retailers will take shoppers' money and run, leaving them without the gift or money to buy it elsewhere.
  2. Social media gift exchange: Purchasing one gift, and receiving 36 sounds like a great deal, but this seasonal scam is actually a pyramid scheme, which is illegal.
  3. Grandparent scams: Seniors should be cautious if they get a call from a grandchild claiming to be in an accident, arrested or hospitalized while traveling in another country. Seniors should check with another family member that it's true.
  4. 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 the retailers' mean website to find out who is hiring.
  5. Free gift cards: Pop-up ads or email offering free gift cards are often just a ploy to get personal information that can later be used for identity theft.
  6. E-cards: Electronic cards can be great fun, but be careful. Two red flags to watch for are: the sender's name is not apparent, you are required to share additional information to get the card.
  7. Fake shipping notifications: These can have attachments or links to sites that will download malware on a user's computer to steal his or her identity or passwords.
  8. Phony charities: Everyone is in a generous mood during 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 before donating.
  9. 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 to find out which ones are legitimate.
  10. 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.
  11. Travel scams: Bargains may be tempting, but be cautious when cooking through online ads, never wire money to someone unknown and ask for references.
  12. Puppy scams: Be very careful about buying pets online, especially during the holidays. Shoppers may get a puppy mill pooch with problems or they may get nothing at all because it's a scam.

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