These four common scams can strike at the mall, online or even in your email:
Package Delivery Scam: The scam begins with an email that includes a phony tracking number informing you that there was a package delivery error. You'll be instructed to open an attachment to print out the correct delivery label and take the package to the nearest shipping office. By opening the attachment, you'll expose your computer to malware and virus attacks.
BBB Advice: Be cautious of these emails, especially if you did not send a package or request one. If you are expecting a package, only use the original tracking number provided in the initial confirmation and track through the store's website.
Counterfeit Sites & Counterfeit Gifts: Some web sites offer electronics or luxury goods at prices that are too good to be true. Every holiday season, BBB hears from shoppers who paid for a supposedly great deal online, but received nothing in return. Cheap prices may be a trap.
BBB Advice: Shop online by purchasing goods directly from the manufacturer or major known retailer. Be wary of shopping sites you aren't familiar with as they may be bogus. Make sure you choose sites that are secured by confirming that the URL link begins with "https."
Bogus Charitable Pleas: The holidays are a time of giving which also creates an opportunity for scammers to solicit donations and fill their own pockets. Beware of solicitations from charities you aren't familiar with. Many scammers will use names that closely resemble the name of a well-known organization and set-up phony donations web sites.
BBB Advice: Don't be fooled by imposters. Confirm existence of the charity and how proceeds are spent with the BBB at http://www.bbb.org/us/charity. Always contribute by check, and only make checks out to the charity, not individual names.
Phishing emails: Phishing emails are a common way for hackers to get at your personal information or break into your computer. Around the holidays, beware of e-cards and messages pretending to be from well-known companies or major retailers with links to package tracking information.
BBB Advice: Don’t click on any links or open any attachments to emails until you have confirmed that they are not malicious. Some emails can infect your computer with a virus or download malware if you click a link. Email addresses that don’t match up, typos and grammatical mistakes are common red flags of a malicious phishing email. Also beware of unsolicited emails from companies with which you have no association. Make sure you have current antivirus software installed on your computer.