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Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on December 10th, 2012,
by Zane Cagle

Avoid the Scammers—BBB Gives Good Advice to Holiday Shoppers

Posted on December 10th, 2012 by Zane Cagle

The holidays can be stressful!!!  Checking off the gifts on your list (and figuring out how to pay for them)! Plus, figuring out when you are going to shop, decorate and attend all of the parties can be overwhelming. And, I won’t even get into the dynamics and drama of extended family events!  We all have that Aunt or Uncle or Mother or Father-in-law that make us nuts!  I can’t do anything about that for anyone…..even myself. But, I can help share information so that you do not add more stress to your holidays by being scammed or having your identity stolen.  Being the victim of a scam or a malicious phishing incident is horrible no matter what time of the year, but during the holidays, scammer intensify their efforts knowing that you are stressed and less likely to pay close attention to some details.

The Better Business Bureau warns of five common holiday scams that all shoppers should be aware of during the Christmas season.  Scammers prey on holiday shoppers who are frantically trying to purchase their Christmas gifts and hope that they do not pay close attention to their receipts, identify and credit card statements.  If shoppers are vigilant, we can collectively put a stop on scammers or at least not make the holidays the most revenue rich time of the year for scammers.  The BBB highlights five common holiday scams:

1.     Online shopping scams: While all of us are shopping for great deals online, beware of deals that seem too good to be true including electronics and luxury items.  Every year the BBB fields many complaints from shoppers who paid for a “great deal” online and received little or nothing in return

The BBB recommends to always look for the BBB logo when shopping to confirm that it is a legitimate site.  Confirm that the company has a physical address and telephone number. The BBB offers reviews of businesses at www.bbb.org. As well, be sure that your online purchases are protected through a credible source such as Paypal.

2.     Nabbing the season’s hottest toys and gadgets online: When stores sell out of popular toys, you may find the item online on such sites as Craigslist or eBay for a much higher price. Beware; some sellers will take your money and run, leaving you without the gift or money to buy it elsewhere.

The BBB recommends that is you are buying from Craigslist or another classified sites, look for local sellers and conduct the business in person. If you are hesitant to meet the seller, take a friend. Never wire money as a payment. If you are shopping auctions like eBay, research sellers extensively and don’t buy if the deal sounds too good to be true

3.    Identity theft at the mall: While you are tending to packages and bags, identify thieves may see an opportunity to steal your wallet or look over your shoulder to copy your debt or credit card numbers.

The BBB recommends that you not let yourself get bogged down with so many gifts that you lose track of your wallet. Know where your credit cards are at all times and cover the keypad when entering your pin number while purchasing or getting money from the ATM.  Make sure you put your card back in your wallet each time you use it.

4.     Bogus charitable pleas:  As the holidays are a time for giving, it also creates an opportunity for scammers to solicit donations in order to fill their own pockets. Beware of solicitations from charities that don’t necessarily deliver on their promises or are ill-equipped to carry through on their plans. Resist the demands for on the spot donations.

The BBB recommends that you always research charities before you give to them. The BBB offers a charity review on their site as well as Standards for Charity Accountability.

5.     Phishing emails: Don’t click on any links or open any attachments to email until have confirmed that they are not malicious.  Email addresses that don’t match up, typos or grammatical mistakes are common red flags of a malicious phishing. Beware of unsolicited emails from companies with who you are no associated.

The BBB recommends that you become a more savvy consumer this holiday season by using their site or call them at (314) 645-3300.

At The Cagle Law Firm, our personal injury lawyers in St Louis, we want everyone’s holidays to be happy and safe.  Taking the extra time to protect your purchases and your identity will make January, February, and March bills easier to swallow.  Maybe you are one of those folks that always has a Christmas fund or particular amount set aside for Christmas shopping—this is wise.  The rest of us are wildly shopping and hoping that we can find that right gift! Personally, I power shop and will try to get all of my needed gifts in one swoop at the mall or preferably online.  Because online shopping is so easy, it is tempting to get careless about it. Keeping your wits about you and shopping smart seemed to be the point of the BBB’s public assistance article.