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Sat, April 04

BBB warns: Avoid these 5 shopping scams

Watch your pennies while shopping Black Friday sales.

Watch your pennies while shopping Black Friday sales.

Black Friday and Small Business Saturday shopping successfully kicked off the holiday shopping season this weekend, but for Cyber Monday to work well “caution” should be at the top of everyone’s list.

According to the National Retail Federation, holiday retail sales in November and December will increase between 4.3 and 4.8 percent over 2017 from a total of $717.45 billion to $720.89 billion. Initial numbers for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday are not yet available.

As shoppers set records on spending, Better Business Bureau (BBB) urges consumers to be prepared for scammers looking to take a bit of family and friend holiday cheer.

The BBB is warning consumers to be aware of these common holiday scams, especially those that involve the internet:

Shopping online

Many retailers now have chip card readers and fraud at brick-and-mortar stores is down, so scammers have shifted their efforts online. Consumers should use a credit (not debit) card online and only shop on secure websites. Look for https in the address (the extra “s” is for “secure”) and for a lock symbol.

Fake shipping notifications

These may have attachments or links to sites that, when opened, will download malware on your computer to steal one’s identity and passwords.


Electronic cards can be great fun, but be careful. If the sender’s name is not apparent or if the sender requires additional information from consumers to get the card, this is a red flag.

Free gift cards

Pop-up ads or emails offering free gift cards are often just a ploy to get personal information which can later be used for identity theft.

Social media gift exchange

It sounds like a great deal; buy one gift and get 36 in return. But it’s just a variation on a pyramid scheme and it is illegal.

Tried and true

In addition, some scams are ever-present:

Letters from Santa: Several trusted companies offer charming and personalized letters from Santa, but scammers mimic them to get personal information from unsuspecting parents. Check with to find out which businesses are legitimate.

Emergency scam: Be cautious if one gets a call from a family member or friend claiming to be in an accident, arrested, or hospitalized while traveling in another country. Never send money unless another family member confirms it is true.

Phony charities: Everyone is in a generous mood at the holidays, so scammers take advantage of that with fake charity solicitations via email, on social media sites and even by text. Check out charities at before donating.

Temporary holiday jobs: Retailers and delivery services need extra help at the holidays, but be aware of solicitations that require a job seeker to share personal information online or pay for a job lead. Apply in person or go to retailers’ main websites to find out who is hiring.

To find out more about scams or to report one, visit the BBB Scam Tracker (

Check out to look up a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, report a scam, read tips, follow us on social media, and more! For more information, please contact Marilyn Huffman at 928-772-3410 or

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