(WJBK) - The good part about the holiday season is everyone's in a good mood. The bad part? That's when we're more likely to let our guard down.
VIDEO: Melanie Duquesnel, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern Michigan joins us on The Nine with some advice on how now to fall victim to the common holiday scams.
Scam shopping sites online
We're all looking for a great deal online, but some sites offer electronics or luxury goods at prices that are too good to be true. Every holiday season BBB hears from holiday shoppers who paid for a supposedly great deal online, but received nothing in return.
BBB advice: Always look for the BBB seal when shopping online and click on the seal to confirm it is legitimate. When shopping on sites that aren't household names, check with your BBB before you buy.
Finding the season's hottest toys and gadgets online
Every year, holiday shoppers fight over the "must have" toy or gadget of the season. When the item is sold out in stores, you can often find it online through sites like Craigslist or eBay-for a much steeper price. The problem is that some sellers will take your money and run.
BBB Advice: Shop locally on Craigslist and conduct the transaction in person-never wire money as payment. When purchasing items on auctions like eBay, research the seller extensively and always listen to your doubts if the deal doesn't sound legit.
Identity theft at the mall
While you're struggling at the mall with bags of presents, identity thieves see an opportunity to steal your wallet and debit or credit card numbers.
BBB Advice: Don't let yourself get bogged down in purchases and lose track of your wallet. Know where your credit and debit cards are at all times and cover the keypad when entering your pin number while purchasing items or getting money from the ATM.
Bogus charitable pleas
The holidays are a time of giving which creates a great opportunity for scammers to solicit donations to line their own pockets. Also beware of solicitations from charities that don't necessarily deliver on their promises or are ill-equipped to carry through on their plans.
BBB Advice: Always research a charity with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance before you give to see if the charity meets the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.
Phishing e-mails - Phishing e-mails are a common way for hackers to get at your personal information or break into your computer. Common phishing e-mails around the holidays include e-cards and messages pretending to be from companies like UPS or Fedex with links to package tracking information.
BBB Advice: Don't click on any links or open any attachments to e-mails until you have confirmed that they are not malicious. E-mail addresses that don't match up, typos and grammatical mistakes are common red flags of a malicious phishing e-mail. Also beware of unsolicited e-mails from companies with which you have no association. Make sure you have current antivirus software and that all security patches have been installed on the computer.
For more advice on being a savvy consumer this holiday season, visit us online at http://easternmichigan.bbb.org/Consumer-Tips/.
Holiday Job Scam
You receive an email that appears to be from the human resources department of a major retailer or a recruitment firm. The email says the company is hiring employees for the holiday season and claims to pay a high hourly wage. And applying is easy. You don't need to go into the store. All you have to do is click the link at the bottom of the message and fill out an online application. If you click, you may download malware to your device. Or, if you complete the "application," you will be sharing your personal information with scammers and opening yourself up to identity theft.
Don't fall for an overpayment scam. No legitimate job would ever overpay an employee and ask him/her wire the money elsewhere. This is a common trick used by scammers. Some positions are more likely to be scams. Always be wary of work-from-home offers, secret shopper positions, or any job with a generic title, such as caregiver or customer service representative. These positions often don't require special training or licensing, so they appeal to a wide range of applicants. If a job looks suspicious, search for it online. If the result comes up in other cities with the exact same job post, it is likely a scam. Also, check the real company's job page to make sure the position is posted there. Watch out for on-the-spot job offers. You may be an excellent candidate for the job, but beware of offers made without an interview. A real company will want to talk to a candidate before hiring him or her. Look for pay or perks well above similar positions. If similar jobs offer to pay $10/hour and this position pays $20/hour, chances are that there's a catch.
Additional Resources: The BBB is a public service agency with a mission to protect consumers by fostering high standards of responsibility in business practices and services. BBB Serving Southfield, Eastern Michigan & the U.P. regularly informs consumers of scams via social media and the website.
For warnings, scam alerts and consumer tips visit: http://www.bbb.org/detroit/news-events/.