With the weather we've had so far this holiday season it may not look or feel quite like Christmas yet, but there is one unfortunate thing that is back that does remind us of the time of year.

Scams are an issue throughout the year, but there's something about the holiday season that seems to get scammers creating even more ways to rip us off. So much so in fact that the Better Business Bureau compiled a list of 12 common scams that are out there for the holidays.

They've appropriately named these the '12 Scams Of Christmas'. It's a cute name, but if you fall victim to any of the following scams, you won't be laughing.

  • Misleading social media ads: Social media feeds are filled with advertisements for different products. Unfortunately, the Better Business Bureau receives daily 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. Before you order, check the BBB Scam Checker. In addition, you can check their business profile on BBB.org and read the reviews.
  • Social media gift exchanges: This holiday season scheme is back again this year. According to the BBB, this scam revolves around exchanging bottles of wine; or purchasing $10 gifts online. Another version asks you to submit your email to a list where participants get to pick a name and send money to strangers to "pay it forward." There is even one involving a "Secret Santa Dog" where you buy a $10 gift for your "secret dog." What ultimately happens is participants unwittingly share their personal information, along with those of their family members and friends, and are even further tricked into buying and shipping gifts or money to unknown individuals. Avoid this illegal pyramid scheme by buying friends gifts from businesses you know and trust.
  • Holiday apps: There are a variety of holiday-themed apps where children can video chat live with Santa, light the menorah, watch Santa feed live reindeer, track his sleigh on Christmas Eve, or relay their holiday wish lists. It sounds fun, but you should review privacy policies to see what information will be collected. Also, be skeptical of free apps, as they can contain more advertising than apps that require a nominal fee. Free apps can also contain malware. Pay close attention to the reviews of any new app you're planning to download.
  • Fake texts that say you've been hacked: I think just about everyone has at some point received a fake text or email claiming their Amazon, Paypal, Netflix, or bank account has been compromised. They're told suspicious activity has occurred on one of their accounts and immediate action must be taken to prevent the account from being compromised. Just delete these texts and emails and never click on the link they often include. You can also log directly into your account online if want to check your account.
  • Free gift cards: Who doesn't want something free? However, Scammers have been known to take advantage by sending bulk phishing emails requesting personal information to receive free gift cards. The emails may even look like they're from legit companies offering gift cards to reward their loyal customers. They may also use pop-up ads or send text messages with links saying you were randomly selected as the winner of a prize. Mark these emails as spam or junk and never open them or click on any links.
  • Temporary holiday jobs: Retailers do hire seasonal workers to help meet the demands of holiday shoppers. The BBB notes that shippers and delivery services are top holiday employers this year because of the increase in online orders and the need to get most of these packages delivered before Christmas. However, job seekers need to be wary of employment scams aimed at stealing money and personal information from job applicants. Keep an eye out for opportunities that seem too good to be true.
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  • Look-alike websites: The holiday season brings endless emails offering deals, sales, and bargains. Be wary of emails with links enclosed. Some may lead to look-alike websites created by scammers to trick people into downloading malware, making dead-end purchases, and sharing private information. Never click on links included in the emails. If you want to see if it's a legitimate offer, you can use the BBB website to verify their real email address.
  • Fake charities: Scammers like to prey on people's noble desire to give to others during the holiday season. Therefore, donors are advised to look out for fraudulent charities and scammers pretending to be individuals in need. Avoid impromptu donation decisions to unfamiliar organizations. Responsible organizations will welcome a gift tomorrow as much as they do today. Consumers can verify any charity at BBB's Give.org.
  • Fake shipping notifications: With more people shopping online, there is an increase in the number of notifications about shipping details from retailers and carriers. Scammers are using this new surge to send phishing emails with links enclosed that may allow unwanted access to your private information or download malware onto your device. They may also try to trick people into paying new shipping fees. Keep close track of online purchases and contact the vendor directly if there are questions.
  • Advent calendars: The Better Business Bureau says that advent calendar popularity is on the rise. This year, CNN had a list of over 60 calendars, and many are in hot demand. In past years, BBB received reports to Scam Tracker about advent calendar ads on social media not delivering as promised. For future holiday seasons, consumers should research before they buy, read reviews, and look up the company on BBB.org before purchasing.
  • Top holiday wishlist items: Heads up! Low-priced luxury goods, jewelry, designer clothing, and electronics are almost always cheap counterfeits and knockoffs. The same applies to popular toys. This year, Barbie and Ken, Bitzee, and Paw Patrol headphones are some of the items in high demand. Be very cautious when considering purchasing popular toys from resellers on Facebook Marketplace and other platforms. If you find a popular item available on an unfamiliar website that is sold out everywhere else, be careful. The same is true for a popular item bargain priced on an unfamiliar website when compared to everywhere else. Look them up with the Better Business Bureau. A lot of times, even a Google search will uncover a lot of unfavorable reviews of these scam websites.
  • Puppy scams: If you're looking to add a puppy to your home for the holidays, be on the lookout for scams if using the internet to find your future dog or cat. Experts say a whopping 80% of sponsored pet advertisements may be fake. Be sure to see the pet in person before making a purchase.

The bottom line is consumers need to be very careful and skeptical when it comes to online shopping and handling unsolicited texts or emails. The Better Business Bureau has a wealth of useful resources to protect consumers and keep scammers at bay.

LOOK: Holiday gift crazes and fads of the past century

Stacker compiled a list of toy crazes from the past 100 years. 

Gallery Credit: Jennnifer Billock

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