Top Christmas scams of 2022 from Better Business Bureau

The Better Business Bureau has compiled a list of the top scams of Christmas.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2022
Top Christmas scams of 2022
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Be on the lookout: online purchase scams were the most commonly reported cons this holiday season. See what other scams made the naughty list.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Better Business Bureau has released its list of top scams of Christmas 2022.

When shopping or donating this holiday season, be sure to watch out for these schemes trying to steal your cash or personal information.

Misleading social media ads

Online purchase scams were the most commonly reported cons in 2022, according to the 2022 BBB Online Scams report. People have reported paying for items they never receive, getting charged monthly for a free trial they never signed up for or received an item that's counterfeit or very different than advertised.

MORE: Tips to not lose your money when shopping on TikTok this holiday

How to avoid:

Before ordering, check the business profile on BBB.org and read the reviews.

Social media gift exchanges

This scheme pops up every holiday season. A newer version of this scam involves exchanging bottles of wine. Another suggests buying $10 gifts online. Another twist asks you to submit your email into a list where participants pick a name and send money to strangers to "pay it forward." In all these versions, participants share their personal information, along with those of family or friends, and are further tricked into buying and shipping gifts or money to unknown people. It's an illegal pyramid scheme, the BBB says.

How to avoid:

Don't participate - ignore it and report social media posts advertising it. You can learn more about the social media gift exchange here.

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Free gift cards

Scammers have been known to take advantage of the beloved word "free" by sending bulk phishing emails asking for personal information to get free gift cards. In some of these emails, scammers impersonate legitimate companies and promise these gift cards as a reward for their loyal customers. They may also send pop-up ads or texts with link saying you were randomly selected as the winner for a prize.

How to avoid:

If you have received an unsolicited email with gift card offers, don't open it. Mark it as spam or junk. You can learn more here.

Alerts about compromised accounts

You're more likely to fall for this one during the busy holiday season. This scam claims your Amazon, Paypal, Netflix or bank account has been compromised. Victims receive an email, call or text which explains there's been suspicious activity on one of their accounts, urging them to take immediate action to prevent the account from being compromised. Learn more about compromised account scams here.

How to avoid:

Be extra cautious with unsolicited calls, emails, and texts. Don't be quick to believe claims from unsolicited communications. If you want to check on your account status, go directly to the website. It's also a good idea to understand how the legitimate business communicates with customers.

Fake shipping notifications

With more online shopping means more notifications about shipping details from retailers and carriers. Scammers use this new surge to send phishing emails with links that may allow unwanted access to private information or download malware on to your device. They may also try to trick people into paying new shipping fees. Learn more about delivery and package scams here.

How to avoid:

Take precautions to ensure a safe delivery - if you're having a valuable or fragile item delivered to your home, purchase shipping insurance. Get a tracking number for your package and check its status periodically. You can also request a signature, and be sure to watch out for texts, calls or emails about a missed delivery. Legitimate delivery services usually leave a "missed delivery" notice on your door.

Read about the other top scams here.