‘Tis the time to be wary

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Nov. 25—Christmas shopping is easier than ever with some people never leaving their homes to buy all their gifts.

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As the number of people who shop online for some or all their Christmas gifts increases, there are some pitfalls they should be aware of, according to the Better Business Bureau.

Misleading social media ads can make claims to support a charity, or to offer a free trial. Online purchase scams are the most common ones reported to BBB Scam Tracker, a site that tracks complaints by people who were misled or scammed with an online purchase.

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Another common scam is a social media gift exchange involving gift cards. They can also ask you to submit your email to a list where participants get to pick a name and send money to strangers to pay it forward. In all these versions, participants unwittingly share personal information, along with family members and friends. In some instances, they are tricked into buying and shipping gifts or money to unknown individuals.

Holiday apps should also be reviewed closely. Some contain more advertising than apps that require a nominal fee. Free apps can also contain malware.

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Another common scam is the use of alerts claiming your Amazon, Paypal, Netflix or bank account has been compromised. Be cautious about unsolicited calls, emails and texts.

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Free gift cards fall into the “if it’s sounds too good to be true, it probably is” category. Scammers will impersonate legitimate companies and promise free gift cards to their loyal customers. Do not open unsolicited emails with gift card offers. Instead, mark it as spam or junk. If you open the email, do not click on any of the links.

While there are lots of employers looking for help during the holidays, not all advertised jobs are legitimate. Beware of businesses that require you to pay for job supplies, application or training fees. Be wary of job offers that don’t require an interview or offer big money for small jobs, and never work for a company before you are officially hired.

Lookalike websites with links enclosed are designed to trick people into downloading malware, make dead-end purchases and steal private information.

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Fake charities also try to take advantage of people during the season of giving. Charities can be verified at Give.org. When possible, donate through a charity’s website and use a credit card.

Fake shipping notifications are also used to access private information or to download malware onto a device.

Low priced luxury goods, electronics, jewelry and designer clothing is often counterfeit or a cheap knockoff. Be cautious when buying the hot, hard-to-find Christmas gift from individuals through social sites.

Have fun shopping.



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