Business & Real Estate

Beware of these scams amid shopping and shipping frenzy this holiday season

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Malware is short for "malicious software." It includes viruses and spyware that get installed on your computer or mobile device without your consent. These programs can cause your device to crash and can be used to monitor and control your online

As people scramble to buy gifts and cards and get them in the mail, holiday scams are making the rounds.

The Better Business Bureau, a nonprofit organization dedicated in part to protecting consumers, released a list of what to watch out for this season when it comes to shopping and delivery.

  • Fake shipping or delivery email notifications: There have been warnings on phony delivery emails from FedEx, UPS and the United State Postal Service, the Belleville News-Democrat reports. They tend to say something along the lines of “Delivery Problems Notification,” or “Suspension alert” or “delivery status change,” according to a news releases from FedEx and UPS. “These links can point to any number of infected websites all over the globe,” FedEx says. Some look like the companies’ websites and logos, while others don’t. Some may even include legal disclaimers. The companies say they don’t request through unsolicited emails information on packages, invoices, account numbers, passwords or personal information. View the fake emails here and here.
  • E-cards: There are two red flags to watch for: no apparent sender’s name and you are asked to supply more information to receive the card, according to the BBB.
  • Shopping online: The BBB recommends that you shop only on secure websites (look for https instead of http in the url). Also, try to use credit instead of debit cards.
  • Social media gift exchange: The “Secret Sister Gift Exchange” and other such exchanges are a scam. They claim you’ll get up to 36 gifts if you participate, but it’s actually illegal as it’s a pyramid scheme, the BBB says.
  • Donations: Read about charities on give.org before donating.
  • Read about more potential scams at www.bbb.org/holidayscams; report and track them at www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us.
  • Find the Federal Trade Commission’s recommendations for avoiding scams and phishing here, here and here.
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