(WXYZ) — With holiday shoppers encouraged to start early this year, the Better Business Bureau has released the 12 scams of Christmas that are most likely to catch people off guard this season.
According to the BBB, many of the scams are through social media and emails, and social media is where people are the most vulnerable.
Below you'll find the 12 scams and tips to avoid them.
1. Misleading social media ads
The BBB said you might see an item for sale from a small business that may even claim to support a charity. Do your homework and research the company before ordering.
2. Social media gift exchanges
This scheme pops up every year, according to the BBB, and a newer version revolves around exchanging bottles of wine. Another suggests purchasing $10 gifts online and asks you to submit your email where someone else will pick your name and strangers will pay it forward. Read more about the social media gift exhange from the BBB.
3. Holiday apps
Keep an eye out on free apps that could contain malware and allow children to live chat with Santa, watch Santa feed live reindeer, track his sleigh or more. Review privacy policies to see what information can be collected.
4. Alerts about compromised accounts
The BBB said there's a new scam going around claiming your Amazon, PayPal or Netflix bank account has been compromised. Watch out for the email, and make sure you always check the sender's email.
5. Free gift cards
Watch out for bulk phishing emails that request personal information to receive free gift cards. Scammers may impersonate legitimate companies like Starbucks and promise gift cards to loyal customers.
6. Temporary holiday jobs
Jobseekers should be wary of employment scams as many companies are hiring for temporary workers this holiday season amid the worker shortage. Keep an eye out for opportunities that seem too good to be true, and watch out for scams aimed at stealing personal information.
7. Look-alike websites
Emails with links enclosed may lead to look-alike websites created by scammers to trick people into downloading malware or sharing private information. If you are unsure, do not click links. Hover over them and see where they reroute.
8. Fake charities
The BBB said about 40% of all charitable donations are received during the last few weeks of the year. Donors are advised to look out for fraudulent charities and scammers pretending to be in need. Avoid impromptu donations to unfamiliar organizations and always do your research.
9. Fake shipping notifications
With more people shopping online, there's an increase in the number of notifications for shipping. Scammers are using the new surge to send phishing emails with links enclosed that may give access to your private information to download malware on your device.
10. Pop-up holiday virtual events
Watch out for virtual local holiday markets or craft fairs. People are creating fake event pages and charging admission for what used to be a free event.
11. Top holiday wishlist items
Scammers are using some of the most in-demand items on social media and selling them at low or ridiculous prices. They are usually cheap counterfeits or knockoffs.
12. Puppy scams
One that's been seen for the past year is a puppy scam. Request to see the pet in-person before making a purchase.