Who's on the ‘naughty' list? BBB releases top holiday scams of 2021

Asia's Tech News Daily

Forget the 12 days of Christmas, the Better Business Bureau Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay (BBB) has released its list of the top 12 scams of Christmas for 2021.

Who’s on the ‘naughty’ list? BBB releases top holiday scams of 2021
© Provided by Global News BBB releases top 12 scams of Christmas

“While we look forward to a bit of a rest during the break, one thing we do know is that scammers do not rest,” BBB president and CEO Mary O’Sullivan-Andersen said. “And they are becoming more sophisticated every day for sure.”

The BBB is warning consumers to watch out for any fraudulent schemes aimed at swiping their cash and stealing personal information — crimes that have cost Canadians upwards of $200 million so far this year.

“It’s big money,” she said. “It’s big, big money.”

The biggest problem right now, according to O’Sullivan-Andersen, is online purchase scams. The BBB told Global News there are more than 400 of these types of scams active across the country right now.

Ongoing supply-chain issues have made consumers even more vulnerable this year, she added.

“Take your time and do your research. I think that’s number one anytime you’re making any kind of purchasing decision.”

Read more:

Canadians report shopping early, stock shortages ahead of Christmas 2021: Poll

Calgarian Kara Watson is vigilant about doing her research, but this year she too fell victim to an online purchasing scam.

She placed an order for a smokeless fire pit through an online website she found on Facebook.  Even though she clicked through it, she did not see any huge red flags.

However, when the item arrived, it did not even remotely resemble the image she saw on the online ad.

“I should have done my research and known that a fire pit for $80 was too good to be true,” she told Global News.

“But I trusted that Facebook wouldn’t have a false ad. It was completely false. It was a complete and utter scam.”

Video: Consumer Matters: Better Business Bureau’s most reported scam targeting younger demographic

Watson reached out to the online retailer and said she was offered an apology, but nothing more. She also reported the ad to Facebook but did not receive any kind of response.

“I was really embarrassed,” she said. “I don’t even want to show my husband this. I can’t believe I fell for this.”

The BBB said Watson, and any other victim, should not feel embarrassed.

“The fact is these scammers have become more and more sophisticated,” O’Sullivan-Andersen said. “And they have very complex behind-the-scenes ways of trying to trick you.”

BBB Naughty list for 2021

That’s why the BBB has come out with its “Top 12 scams of Christmas” list:

Misleading social media ads: Consumers pay for items they don’t receive, get charged for a free trial or get counterfeit items.

Social media gift exchanges: These involve exchanging bottles of wine or another gift with the promise of ‘paying it forward’ when in fact it is an illegal pyramid scheme.

Free holiday apps: These are apps that promise children can chat live with Santa or watch him arrive. These can collect data and contain malware.

Alerts about compromised accounts: These warn that your bank account or other accounts have been compromised when in fact they haven’t. Thieves then get access to personal and financial information.

Free gift cards: Scammers take advantage of people wanting free merchandise by sending bulk phishing emails requesting personal information. They may also impersonate legitimate companies.

Temporary holiday jobs: These involve postings for shippers and delivery services for the busy holiday season and can be an effort to get personal information.

Look-alike websites: These websites are created by scammers to trick people into downloading malware, making dead-end purchases and sharing private information. They are not legitimate companies.

Fake charities: Tough times have many charities asking for donations online. Scammers prey on the urge to give and not research if the charity is legitimate.

Fake shipping notifications: With more consumers making purchases online, scammers use the surge to send phishing emails with links attached allowing unwanted access to personal/financial information.

Pop-up holiday virtual events: Many pop-up holiday markets or craft fairs have moved online. Scammers create fake event pages charging admission to what used to be a free event.

Puppy scams: Pet scams are on the rise this year, BBB advises to see the pet in person before purchasing.

Top holiday wish list items: These involve low, or ridiculously priced luxury goods and other items. Most are cheap counterfeits.

Watch:

Beware of Amazon impersonators this Black Friday, warns Better Business Bureau

Calgarian Susan Kumar has been busy fulfilling her son’s wish list. Raymond wants Lego for Christmas, which has been in short supply due to the supply chain issues.

Still, Kumar isn’t willing to buy online on just any site.

“I’m being very cognizant of the websites that do pop up for some of the popular items that I’m looking for,” she told Global News. “I’ve just heard too many horror stories from people buying from websites where it wasn’t legit.”

She hasn’t been scammed, but again, knows of some parents who have.

“Honestly it doesn’t surprise me with all the demand out there for some of the popular toys,” she added.

“It’s no doubt there are scammers out there looking to prey on some of the innocent parents.”

O’Sullivan-Andersen said regardless of the dollar amount of the item, the damage can be great.

“You can be out a couple of dollars, you can be out a couple of hundred of dollars, you can be out thousands of dollars,” she said. “But what it really robs you of also is your trust.”

She added that breakdown of trust means consumers are less likely to trust a retailer and less likely to spend money, which hurts consumer confidence and the reputation of legitimate businesses.

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