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BBB issues 5 holiday scams to watch out for

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The Better Business Bureau covering the Springfield area released a list of the top five holiday scams to avoid this year.

“Scammers know that people can be trusting this time of year,” said Michelle Corey, BBB’s St. Louis-area president and CEO, in a news release. “The best way to thwart scammers is to be cautious and make sure you’re working with trustworthy businesses.”

1. Online shopping scams.

According to the BBB, each year the organization receives complaints from shoppers who found a “great deal” online but received little or nothing for their payment. The BBB suggests confirming whether the business has a physical address and phone number. It also notes pages requiring personal or financial information should have an https:// at the beginning of the URL.

2. Online ads for toys and gadgets.

The BBB urges caution when buying toys and gadgets online via websites such as Craigslist or eBay, as some may take money from customers and not provide the promised product. For Craigslist, the BBB recommends customers meet with the seller in person at a public place and with a friend. On eBay, research the sellers to make sure they’re legitimate.

3. Identity theft at the mall.

The BBB warns thieves are on the lookout during the holiday season to take advantage of those struggling with bags of presents. Its advice is to keep track at all times of your credit and debit cards. Cover the keypad when entering your PIN number, and use the embedded chips on cards instead of the magnetic strip, when possible.

4. Fake charities.

Scammers use the holiday season to take advantage of people who want to make charitable contributions. Don’t donate right away. First, read detailed reports about the charities, and talk with others who have donated, the BBB recommends.

5. Phishing emails.

Watch out for emails that pretend to be from UPS, FedEx or other major retailers, the BBB cautions. Phishing emails may contain a link claiming it has package tracking information. Don’t click on links or open attachments in emails until you’ve determined the sender is legitimate. Common red flags, according to the BBB, are email addresses that don’t match up, typos and grammatical mistakes.

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