PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – As holiday shopping season begins, it’s not just a busy time for consumers but for cyber criminals as well.
Rebecca Barr with the Better Business Bureau joined AM Extra to discuss red flags to look out for to avoid getting scammed whether you’re shopping, applying for a seasonal job or making a charitable donation.
“Scams are going to be high,” Barr said. “It’s expected to reach $380 million for online shopping fraud of money lost to victims this year.”
In terms of holiday shopping, Barr advises consumers to start shopping early “so you’re not in panic mode,” and to have your guard up when shopping online.
Not only are scammers targeting consumers, Barr adds that scammers also try to appeal to seasonal job seekers.
“A lot of people look for seasonal jobs to make that extra cash for the holiday season, but unfortunately employment scams are out there, and they are on the popular job boards,” Barr said.
“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is because a lot of these scams are work from home — remote,” Barr explained. She noted while remote work is more popular, “that doesn’t mean they’re a scam, but those types of job postings tend to end up in a scam.”
These scams tend to be mystery shopping scams, car wrapping scams, work from home data entry or shipping scams, Barr said.
Barr pointed out the risks job hunters could be taking by handing over their name, address and banking information to a scammer when they think they’re applying for a job.
“A lot of scammers like to impersonate legitimate organizations. So, you want to go directly to that company’s website you’re applying for to see if that job really is open for you to apply for,” Barr said.
Another way to avoid these scams, Barr said, is to research the company, including on the BBB website, to see what other people are saying about the company.
“The biggest red flag is if they ask you to pay up front for training or equipment,” Barr noted.
Additionally, she advises consumers to be wary of scammers posing as charity organizations.
“A lot of scammers use copycat names or put a fake charity all together, you want to review the website very carefully,” Barr said.
Barr advises consumers to watch out for name similarities, review websites carefully, avoid on-the-spot donations, be wary of emotional appeals and to check with state charity officials