Scams to watch for during your last-minute Christmas shopping

Posted at 8:40 AM, Dec 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-17 10:40:45-05

BOISE, Idaho — With Christmas a little over a week away, you might be scrambling to finish your shopping. However, the happy holidays can turn into the holiday blues quickly if scammers take advantage of your busy shopping schedule.

Some shoppers may not know the perfect gift to get someone on their list and may look to a gift card, but beware. No matter where gift cards are displayed in the store, thieves are known to remove gift cards and record the numbers associated with that card, including the activation PIN. The Better Business Bureau suggests that before buying a gift card, look carefully at the packaging for any tears, wrinkles, or other indications of tampering and see if the PIN is exposed. If anything looks suspicious, it's probably best to take a different card, and turn in the compromised card to Customer Service.

If you're ordering online, busy schedules and increased purchases make it easier to miss--and fall victim--to a phishing scam. Keep an eye out for unsolicited emails, texts, calls or letters. These often may appear to be from a major retailer or delivery companies trying to convince you there is a problem with your order, and they need your personal or private information to fix the issue. If they provide a link, it could put viruses or ransomware on your computer or phone.

Also, be on the lookout as you travel this season. Protect yourself and your discretionary funds by using a credit card for extra protection. At the gas pump and other point of sale machines, watch out for skimmers. If your card doesn't go in easily when you try to pay, there could be a device trying to steal your card information.

Lastly, be careful where you are charging your phone or electronic devices, as con artists have been known to infiltrate airport USB charging ports to skim peoples information off their devices.

For more resources on how to protect your identity and money, click here. Stay up-to-date on the latest scams via the BBB Scam Tracker.