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December 04, 2012

Better Business Bureau Warns of Holiday Scams

By Colleen Lynch, TMCnet Contributor

The Better Business Bureau is reminding the nice this holiday season that the naughty are out there, and to be wary of donation scams and fake free-offers or discounts.

Many scams this season will involve social media, and the BBB is trying to combat the problem beforehand rather than later, by getting the word out there about typical holiday and schemes and frauds.

McAfree Internet Security is one of the largest dedicated online security companies in the world, and according to its reports, about one-third of digital device owners will not adequately protect themselves this December.

Common scams involve free Apple (News - Alert) product offers, and free iPads will abound this season, but do not be fooled; free iPads may sound great but they are not a reality, no matter where the offer is coming from.

Months when shopping is increased significantly raises the risk for consumers, creating what McAfree terms “easy pickings” for schemers and fraudsters.

According to Adobe (News - Alert) Digital Publishing, 21 percent of online sales will come from mobile devices this month, with the majority being from tablets. From the same time in 2011 to this year in 2012, ADP expects a 110-percent increase for online sales.

Digital shopping scams to beware of, McAfree says, will have telltale warning signs, and any online contest should be approached with extreme caution.

Many social media accounts will face increased risk of being hacked over the holidays, so offers for deals or discounts from friends on sites like Facebook or Twitter are most often coming from people who are not your actual friends.

Links sent through Skype (News - Alert) or certain phone apps will be used to steal personal information, which will be sent out in order to make you a target for other fraudulent offers.

In addition, clicking on any offer for free or discounted products could potentially sign consumers on for raised charges on texts.

The real problem is websites designed to gain personal information are made to look legitimate and trustworthy. Even if you think you are too smart to fall for such scams, you should be careful.

Even emailed e-cards can contain spyware and viruses that will infect your computer or digital device. Be sure such e-mails contain the person’s full name: if you know a Josh Anderson, do not accept an e-card from “Josh,” thinking it is this person. Most likely it is not--and is an e-card really important enough to take such a chance?

The worst of the bunch is undoubtedly fake charities, which target those looking to help the unfortunate. Do not be so naive--despicable people will use these methods to scam people.

The simple solution is to do some research on the organizations looking for donations to ensure they are the real-deal before giving them your hard-earned cash.

The BBB even has a helpline (800-856-2417) and a website ( for wary consumers this holiday season, and the company urges shoppers to visit or call for accurate information before falling prey to scammers.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

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