Top scams to watch out for this holiday season: BBB

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Top holiday scams to watch out for over Christmas
WATCH: The Better Business Bureau is out with its top picks for holiday scams this year. Tomasia DaSilva has a look at some of the ones making headlines – Dec 10, 2018

‘Tis the season for scams — the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay is out with its top 12 scams of the holidays.

Phony charities

One of the scams on that list: fraudulent charities.

“At this time of year, persons are in a giving mood,” said BBB’s Shawna-Kay Thomas, “but be wary of phony charities.”

Thomas advised people to check with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to make sure the charity is registered. They can also check with the BBB at to ensure they have the necessary licencing and other requirements to operate as a charity.

Puppy scam

The BBB also warned of scams that tug at your heartstrings over the holidays, including the so-called puppy scam.

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Hopeful puppy buyers will go online to buy a furry friend, but often that pup isn’t real.

“They may send you a picture that seems like, ‘Oh, lovely pup,’ and the description and everything matches,” Thomas said.

“But when you plug that information into Google you find out this picture pops up on many other sites, which is a red flag.”

Grandparent scam

Another scam that plays on emotions: the grandparent scam.

It targets seniors and usually involves a call from a someone pretending to be a grandchild or other family member who says they are in trouble and need money sent right way.

“You’re asked to pay a ransom for these family members,” Thomas said. “Do not act immediately, always take time to verify.”

Fraudulent emails

Many of the scams making the list also involve fraudulent websites or emails.

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The Secret Sister gift exchange is back on Facebook this year. It promises 36 gifts in return for buying just one — but you have to recruit others to join in the gift exchange. That’s where the BBB said the problems start.

“It’s a pyramid scheme, which is illegal,” Thomas said. “So don’t participate in that.”


There are also the scams involving look-alike websites or emails offering deals, gifts and sales. These may look legitimate but they are often not and may trick people into entering private information.

Personal and financial information may also be compromised when responding to temporary holiday job offer scams, fake shipping notifications and even letters from Santa.

The BBB said a good rule of thumb is if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Top 12 Christmas scams

  1. Look-alike websites
  2. Social media gift exchange
  3. Grandparent scam
  4. Temporary holiday jobs
  5. Free gift cards
  6. E-cards
  7. Fake shipping notifications
  8. Phony charities
  9. Letters from Santa
  10. Unusual forms of payment
  11. Travel scams
  12. Puppy scams

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