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BBB: You better watch out for deliveries from scammers’ workshops

It’s the “most wonderful time of the year” for crooks. When gift-shopping consumers up their game, so do scammers trying to “mix and mingle” their way into your pocketbook. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) annually identifies the “12 scams of Christmas,” listing the most reported rip-offs for holiday shoppers and donors. This week BBB begins its holiday warning with the first three scams you should block from sneaking down your chimney and into your finances.

On the first day of Christmas, a social media scam

Online purchase scams were the most common of all reported to BBB’s Scam Tracker in 2022, and it was the category with the most victims. Frequently the scams came in the form of ads on social media. People paid for items they never received, were charged monthly for “free” trials they never signed up for or received merchandise that was counterfeit or very different from what was advertised. Some social media scams posed as small businesses or claimed to support a charitable cause. 

Always check out any company you are not familiar with before you decide to order from them. Look at their business profile at and do a thorough online search for their reviews.


On the second day of Christmas, Secret Santa rips you off

Social media gift exchanges, in the form of Secret Santas, wine exchanges, “mere $10 gift” swaps, and “Secret Santa Dog,” to name a few, abound at this time of year. One version asks you to put your email on a list where participants pick a name and send money to “pay it forward.” But whether you are being Santa to a stranger, or even to a pet, a scammer somewhere is getting your personal information, along with that of your family members and/or friends. What’s really going on is a pyramid scheme and it is illegal.

On the third holiday, you get scammed by an app

Holiday apps. What could be more fun? Video chat with live Santa! Light the menorah! Watch Santa feed his reindeer! Submit a holiday gift list! In modern times, traditional visits with department store Santas have been replaced by apps that lure users into all sorts of potential perils. These can be especially devious for children and watchful parents should be aware of these:

• Data collection on children may be happening. Search for and read the app’s privacy policy and if it’s not available, don’t download the app. It should tell you who is collecting the data, what that data is, how it’s used, and who can access it. It should outline your parental rights and consumer opt-out tools.

• This is illegal: an online service directed to children that collects their photo, video or voice recording, or any device identifier of a child without parental or guardian consent.

• Free apps are full of ads. Some may have content inappropriate for children. Some may even require viewing before the child can continue.

• Free apps may contain malware that is downloaded onto your digital device. Watch out for crude imitations of popular cartoon or fictional characters.

Vigilance is a necessity during the holidays, not just for flying reindeer but also for scheming crooks. Scammers may digitally disguise themselves as “right jolly old elves,” but behind their fake beards are ominous schemes. Trust your Better Business Bureau to keep you alerted to the “12 Scams of Christmas” in coming articles. For answers to questions or concerns about holiday scams, contact your Better Business Bureau at 800-856-2417 or visit the website