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3 holiday scams you don't want to fall for

POSTED: December 7, 2017 5:19 a.m.
Amy Iverson/

A phishing attack, a pyramid scheme, and fake toys are all a problem this holiday season. Tips on how to spot them and what to do if you get duped.

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This time of year, our email and front porches are filled with internet orders. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep track of what you ordered, when and from where. The busy holiday season online and in real life leaves us perfectly vulnerable for all sorts of scams.

Amazon Phishing Attack

With about 65 million Prime members worldwide, data analysis by Slice Intelligence found that 43 percent of all online retail sales in the U.S. go through Amazon. So, it’s no wonder that scammers are targeting Amazon shoppers.

The Better Business Bureau is warning Santa’s helpers about this email phishing scam that appears to be from Amazon. It will even have the official Amazon logo and looks legit. The subject line will read: “We could not confirm the address associated with your Amazon account.” The message says you’ll have to verify all information before you can go on amazon.com again and asks you to click on a link.

Helpful hint: Whenever an email asks you to click on a link (especially when it concerns passwords or account information), resist. Instead, always type the company’s website (in this case, you would start by simply typing in amazon.com) into the URL bar and navigate from there.

Amazon has some tips for figuring out if an email really came from it. The company says it will never ask for sensitive personal information like a Social Security number, credit card information or even your mother’s maiden name. Amazon says to look for suspicious clues in the email like a request for a password change, a prompt to download an attachment or typos.

If you didn’t notice any of those things and got duped into entering your password on a malicious website, Amazon says to immediately go to its website and change your password. If you released credit card information, call the credit card company and let it know. You may need to get a new card.

Fingerling Fake

Fingerlings are the hot toy this holiday season. They are little robotic monkeys (or unicorns) that grab on to things (like your finger) and react to movement. They are currently out of stock online at Walmart, Target, Toys R Us and Amazon. Maybe you see them right now on Amazon, and that may be true, but that may also be where the scam comes in.

Business Insider reports third parties have been selling the toys on Amazon at a 100 percent markup or more. But those aren’t the only Fingerlings on Amazon; there are also fakes. CNBC reports the company that makes Fingerlings and WowWee, has sued 165 sellers for pumping out the fake toys.

For parents out there wondering if an online listing is real, WowWee has some tips. First, look for an official seller on any website which will say something like “Sold & shipped by Walmart,” or “Ships from and sold by amazon.com." WowWee strongly encourages customers not to purchase from third-party resellers. You can see a list of official Fingerlings retailers here.

Gift Exchange Scheme

I’ve seen some of my Facebook friends falling for a scam this year that is not new to the social media Christmas world. The Secret Sister Gift Exchange claims if you send just one $10 gift card, you will receive up to 36 gifts in return.

Ladies all over Facebook are inviting six friends to join who are all supposed to send gifts to the person in the No. 1 spot. As the No. 1 person drops off the list, then the No. 2 person will allegedly receive the gifts, and so on.

This is not only a scam, but an illegal pyramid scheme as well, according to the Better Business Bureau. Pyramid schemes are illegal if they require you to give money or other items of value in order to gain the reward.

If you participate in one through social media (or email, or snail mail), you are breaking the law. The Better Business Bureau encourages you to ignore these types of requests, no matter what form they take.

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