The Better Business Bureau has released a set of tricks that might sound like treats. They are the top rip-offs this time of year, and all of them are focused on getting your information and your money.
They say you can avoid falling victim by using a healthy dose of skepticism.
In a season full of ghosts and goblins, the scariest stuff for Kathleen Calligan, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Nashville, is a new set of ways criminals could use to steal your security.
“Scams are always scary and these are particularly scary,” she said.
First, she says to watch your mail for a flyer promising $200 in gasoline coupons for just $2.99.
“And you ask all the right questions when you call the toll-free number and you’re trying to be a good consumer, very educated,” Calligan said. “They answer all those questions, but they’re recording everything you say.”
She says a few days later you realize that instead of taking $2.99 from your account, they have taken more than $200.
Second, there’s an elaborate worldwide scam, capitalizing on the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs that promises free iPads to especially those on Facebook and Twitter.
“Lots of people fell victim to this scam, which was there just to get your personal information so that they could target you for identity theft,” Calligan said.
Third, she says to be suspicious when shopping online. A promise of last-minute delivery might not be what you think.
“So when you give your credit card, if you haven’t checked out these websites, you could be a victim of the biggest trick of all, is ordering gifts and expecting it to be delivered in 24 hours. They take your money by credit card and you don’t have the item,” Calligan said.
In fact, last year, the Better Business Bureau received 300 or so complaints nationally about costume sites failing to deliver.
Experts say to never do business with a company you don’t check out first, and watch paying in advance unless you know you can trust the company.
Also, for online purchases it’s a better bet to use a credit card, if you have one, instead of a debit card.
If there’s a problem, that makes it a little bit easier to get help.