FREE WHOLE FOODS
3 Scams To Watch Out for This Christmas Shopping Season
The Black Friday through Christmas shopping season is full of great deals and big discounts… but it's ALSO full of scammers. We've seen several scams already plaguing PPP readers this year and we want you to be scam-aware while doing your holiday shopping. Here are some of the most-frequent scams to look out for this week and through the rest of the holiday season. Please let us know of others you've encountered so that we can share those as well!
1. Copycat Websites
One of the BIGGEST scams you'll want to keep your eyes peeled for is websites offering crazy deals that are actually copy-cats of the true website. This one happened TODAY to my son's college girlfriend who's generally pretty savvy about online shopping. She was excited about this UGG sale at Macy's but the super-low prices sent up red flags for me. When I went to investigate it was immediately clear that we were not shopping at Macy's by the URL (The web address in the browser bar) The web address for these “Macy's deals” read: “Friendfairsend.com” (yikes!) and was advertising luxury brands that Macy's doesn't even sell. Not only will this fraudulent site NOT be sending you UGGS – but you they may also be installing malware on your computer.
Here's a screenshot so you can see how convincing the fake site looked:
Red Flags: Both the URL and the unbelieveable deals were red flags in this scam. The Tasman slipper one of the “It” gifts this year and is sold out on NEARLY every retail website include UGGs, Amazon, Zappos, etc… It's not going on sale because at this point people will pay people MORE that it costs just to get their hands on them. Does it seem likely that Macys would have it in stock and on sale for 75% OFF? No way!
2. Phishing Texts/Emails from Shipping Companies
These scammers are posing as FedEx, UPS, or USPS to get your information. Often they've already hacked into the shipper's software so they know when customers are supposed to be receiving a package. That makes it easy to fall for – but don't trust texts or emails that ask for “more information” in order to deliver to you!
UPS has collected several examples to warn customers which you can check out here. But overall they give these helpful tips to avoid becoming a victim to these very convincing texts/emails.
- Slow Down – Scammers rely on urgency to create panic. Be cautious of anything that implies you must act immediately. Take the time to review the message, then review it again.
- Don’t Click — Check the Link – Legitimate UPS links will start with “https://www.ups.com”, “https://billing.ups.com”, “https://go.ups.com” or “http:/links4.upsemail.com”.
- Check the Details – Are there spelling or grammar errors? Generic greetings, like “Sir or Madame?” Fraudsters will frequently use small typos to trick you into clicking on the link.
- Delete and Block It – So you don’t accidentally interact with it later.
3. Social Media Scams
Many of the scams this year are originating from misleading Facebook, Instagram or TikTok ads that use your history (what you've liked before, what you've clicked on before) to lure you with an item you've been looking for. The link will then take you to a site selling a counterfeit version of the product. Or you may never receive any product at all. Check the URL to make sure that you're shopping an authentic site – look closely at the spelling of the name to be 100% certain! (For instance – you may be shopping on a site spelled “TiffanyAndCo.com” that is not the true “Tiffany.com” Or opening an email from “Googel” instead of “Google”.
P.S. Also watch out for Gift Exchanges advertised on social media sites – like “Secret Santa” or “Secret Santa Dog”. If you're giving out your information to a stranger (Address, Email, ANYTHING) the BBC has more to say about it here.
While these are just the TOP THREE scams we've seen this shopping season – the Better Business Bureau has a list of all the scams currently being reported so that you can remain aware of any new ones that might be targeting you! Also see their 12 Scams of Christmas with the most recent scams to pop up.
3 Tips to Avoid Scams This Holiday Season:
1. Shop ONLY Reputable Websites/Stores
Buying directly from sellers you trust will go a long way in preventing you from getting fraudulent charges and knockoff merchandise.
2. Question Prices that are Too-Good-To-Be-True
If prices are unreasonably low, let it be a red flag to you that it's a scam. If it seems to good to be true – it probably is! PPP vets all the deals we post to make sure they're authentic.
3. Research Companies Before Buying
If you're shopping from a company you're not familiar with – do your research first. Check to see that they hav ea working customer service number, look them on on the BBB or ask in a public forum or Facebook group.