BBB Releases 12 Scams of Christmas

online purchase scams

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has released a list of the top 12 scams that could affect consumers, retailers and charity donors during Christmas time.

The majority of the scams are perpetrated through emails and social media, with many people being particularly vulnerable to the latter. The biggest red flag is being asked to make a payment or donation via wire or e-transfer, through third parties or by prepaid debit cards or gift cards. However, some scams could be collecting personal information or installing malware in your device.

BBB 12 Scams of Christmas

While these Christmas scams do not directly target businesses as such, business owners should be aware of how their own promotions and enticements to spend are perceived by consumers. Even the way discounted items and special deals are offered might come across as suspicious if the promotional campaign resembles any of these common scams.

It can also help businesses to help their customers by making them aware of relevant scams. Helping customers be aware of such criminal activity and how it works can foster trust between your business and your customers.

Online Purchase Scams

The No.1 Christmas scam as identified by the BBB is misleading social media ads. The BBB says of this scam: “As you scroll through your social media feed, you often see items for sale from a small business. Sometimes the business even claims to support a charity to try to get you to order, or they offer a free trial. BBB Scam Tracker receives reports of people paying for items that they never receive, getting charged monthly for a free trial they never signed up for, or receiving an item that is counterfeit or much different from the one advertised.

“The 2020 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report found that online purchase scams were the most common cons reported to Scam Tracker and the category with the most victims. Do your homework and research the company before ordering. Check out the business profile on and read the reviews.”

Social media gift exchanges were also cited as a common scam around Christmas time, as well as free holiday apps that collect information and can even contain malware.

Other Top Christmas Scams to Look Out For

The rest of the Christmas scam list compiled by the BBB includes some well known cons such as alerts about compromised accounts, free gift cards and temporary holiday jobs. Fake look-alike websites are also a concern, as are fake charities, fake shipping notifications and pop-up holiday virtual events.

Consumers should also be on the lookout for top holiday wishlist items containing low or ridiculously priced luxury goods. There has also been an increase in puppy and pet scams, so always make sure you see the pet in person before handing over any money.

Image: Depositphotos

More in: ,

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. She is based in the United Kingdom and since 2006, Gabrielle has been writing articles, blogs and news pieces for a diverse range of publications and sites. You can read "Gabrielle’s blog here.".