The FBI and Better Business Bureau are warning folks that the Grinch has come to your town for the holiday season and he’s taking advantage of the pandemic out to trick, scam and steal from unsuspecting shoppers.
One of the top ways scammers get your attention is by offering ridiculously low prices for hot gifts such a PlayStation 5 or Nintendo Switch. Sometimes they even impersonate nonprofits pretending to collect money for charity. Remember if an online deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re being asked to donate to a charity and you want to help, contact them directly. It’s best to only give your money to reputable websites and businesses with an established track record – that way your stockings don’t wind up empty.
The BBB recommends going directly to the company’s website rather than a third-party website offering too-good-to-be-true deals with beautiful, glossy pictures. There’s a good chance it’s a scam. Also, beware of sellers on Facebook marketplace, OfferUp and Craigslist. Consumer watchdogs have been receiving reports about suspicious offers and websites promising deals on the latest PlayStation 5 with even some new scams on bargains on the older PS4.
For example an incident was reported to the AARP Fraud Watch Network in October when a consumer spotted a deal on OfferUp, an online marketplace, for a PS4 for $115 plus $45 for shipping. The buyer paid for the PS4 with CashApp, but the gaming system never arrived, they were never able to get ahold of the seller and had no way to get their money back.
So here’s a quick tip: Never pay with a prepaid gift card, CashApp or Venmo or wire someone money when you’re trying to buy a gift online. Use a credit card, not a debit card as it offers better consumer protections. If you’re meeting someone locally, police warn that you might just be buying an empty box. Or you might be meeting someone who wants to steal your money and doesn’t even have a PS4 or PS5 to sell.
You’ll be interested to hear about the top scam reported to the Better Business Bureau for the past 3 Christmases in a row. It’s not for video game consoles or fake charities but for puppies! We recently did a segment on how the pandemic has created a surge in demand for puppies and the rise of puppy scammers. But, here’s what you need to know.
Getting a puppy for Christmas can make a child’s dream come true unless the Grinch strikes first. The Better Business Bureau recommends that you be very careful. They recommend that if you can’t scratch it behind the ear or let it lick your hand, stay away. Many so called “breeders” are claiming that the pandemic is keeping them from selling puppies in person.
Don’t let the Grinches out there take your money!
Stay safe out there.