Top 10 holiday warnings from the Better Business Bureau


LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The holidays are a time of giving, but they are also a busy time of year for scam artists.  So the Better Business Bureau is releasing their list of the top 10 scams and holiday warnings:

1.    Delivery Scams – If you receive an email from what appears to be UPS Shipments that states "your package has arrived," and it asks you to click on a link, delete it! This is a typical phishing scam. Other emails ask you to download a form, which ends up containing a virus. Similar emails can come from "Fed Ex."

2.    Before you buy a Gift Card, be sure that it has not been tampered with. Scam artists can scratch off the security code, write down the numbers while the card is on display, and call an 800 number to learn when the card has been activated. Also be wary of online auction sites that promise "full value guaranteed" gift cards. The card could be worth nothing. And, read the fine print before purchasing.

3.    Grinch Greetings! Cyber crooks distribute phony versions of e-cards containing links to computer viruses and other malware. BBB warns consumers to only open e-cards from a trusted source to avoid spreading computer viruses instead of holiday cheer.

4.    BBB recommends using caution when downloading holiday-themed screen savers, jingles and animations. Scammers can easily use these to spread viruses and other computer threats, especially in links from an e-mail or IM that appears to be from a friend.

5.    BBB offers these tips for Returns/Exchanges this holiday season:  Know the seller's return policy. A business­ is not obligated to accept items for refund, exchange, or credit except in cases where the item is defective or misrepresented. Check for restocking fees if an item is returned. If you want to return an item, understand the difference between exchanges and credits. There may be time limits for returns. Always keep receipts and original packaging.

6.    Holiday Travel Tips: Create a car safety kit before you hit the road; include a blanket, flashlight, batteries, radio, first aid kit, jumper cables, and non-perishable foods; take your car in for a check-up; and download the BBB iPhone app to find businesses you can trust when you are traveling.

7.    During the holidays, many people travel and use Free Wi-Fi in hotels and airports. Thieves use this op­portunity to hack into networks to steal sensitive information. BBB warns consumers to stick to well-es­tablished and trusted sites. Do not respond to offers that arrive in a spam e-mail, text or instant message. Never download or click anything from an unknown source.

8.      BBB tips on finding a trustworthy kennel to board your pets: Check the kennel out with BBB to make sure they have a good track record for keeping customers satisfied; personally visit the facilities; check for cleanliness and offensive odors, safety of cages, certificates of inspection, feeding and exercise schedules, proof of immunization policies and medical emergency procedures.

9.    Expecting an E-reader this holiday season? Beware that E-book Scams are on the rise. To avoid these scams, stick with authors you know. If you decide to buy from an unfamiliar author, see if you can download a sample (Amazon lets you do this) first to test the quality. Don't be taken by great reviews that accompany cheap books. Don't click on links in an e-book unless it's by a reputable author, or visit that author's website directly. It could be a virus.

10.  Before hiring a Chimney Sweep do your homework! Find out how long the company has been in business, ask for references, and be sure the company has a valid business liability insurance policy. Beware of scammers who use a low price tactic to get in your door. They often recommend additional work to be done, bullying the homeowner into a much more expensive bill.

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