Regional News

Tis the Season for Scams

Dec 05, 2017

Better Business Bureau Serving the Northwest is warning consumers to look out for common scams that occur during this time of year. While consumers are walking off all the turkey from Thanksgiving, scammers are looking to pull a Grinch move and steal the holidays with fraud. 

Commons scams that occur during the holiday season include online purchase scams, look-alike websites, fake shipping notifications and free gift card scams. Last year from October to the end of December, more than 500 US victims reported an online purchase scam to BBB Scam Tracker. Victims reported more than 200 look-alike website scams, 300 phishing scams and over 150 gift card scams. Consumers are urged to look out for these scams:

Online Purchases. During the 2016 holiday season, Washington victims reported losing nearly $48,000 to 137 online purchase scams. Recently, there has been an uptick in reports to Scam Tracker for online purchase scams, many of which are coming from ads featured on Instagram. These ads lure consumers in with pretty pictures, good deals and convincing websites. However, reports show buyers are handing over their money without ever receiving the product. Research online companies by checking them out on While shopping online, look for the lock symbol in the browser. The web address should show "https." 

Look-alike websites. Scammers will use any trick up their sleeve including using the names of well-known brands along with extra words in URLs. Before users make a purchase online, they should make sure they are on an official website and check for business profiles.

Fake shipping notifications. Nearly 50 Northwest victims reported losing more than $5,400 to phishing scams during last year's holiday season. This scam includes links or attachments that download malware to a device to steal personal information.

Free gift cards. Don't be fooled by pop-up ads or emails offering free gift cards. These are often just a ploy to get personal information that can later be used for identity theft. Shoppers should also check that the company they are purchasing a gift card from isn't going out of business and determine whether there is an expiration date for the card.

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