Business

It's prime season for Christmas cons

  - Jennifer Lang photo
— image credit: Jennifer Lang photo

With Christmas just over a month away, the Better Business Bureau is warning consumers that it's prime season for scammers hoping to rip them off.

"Every year, thousands of shoppers fall victim to the holiday deals that seem too good to be true, and the bogus charity pleas that pull at heart strings," says Danielle Primrose of the B.C. Better Business Bureau, who warns that it's important to be vigilant online – and while out shopping.

The BBB offers the following tips:

  • Always check a business's BBB Business Review at www.mbc.bbb.org before making a purchase. Make sure the company has a physical address and telephone number. While shopping online, be suspicious of prices for electronics or luxury goods at low, low prices.
  • If you're shopping on Craigslist or other free bulletin board site, look for local sellers and conduct financial transactions in person. Bring a friend along if you're uncomfortable meeting the seller alone. Never wire money as payment, and if you're shopping online auctions, look at the seller ratings and read their reviews.
  • Don't get bogged down in purchases or lose track of your wallet. Identity thieves are on the lookout to steal your wallet – or to spy over your shoulder to learn your credit and debit card numbers. Cover the keyboard while entering your PIN number or when withdrawing cash from an ATM.
  • Think before you give. Door-to-door solicitations are common at this time of year, but if an unfamiliar organization comes knocking, don't donate without gathering details such as the charity's name, address and an ID from the solicitor. Ask to see written information on the charity's programs and finances, then visit the Canadian Revenue Agency for a list of registered charities to confirm they're legit.
  • Don't click on any links or open attachments that come by email until you've confirmed they're not malicious. "Phishing" emails are a common way for hackers to get you to part with your personal information. Beware of e-cards and messages pretending to be from courier companies like UPS or FedEx with links to package tracking information. Email addresses that don't match up, typos and grammatical errors are red flags. Also make sure your computer's anti-virus software and security patches are updated.

For more tips, visit www.mbc.bbb.org.



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