Holiday travel tips

The holiday season has officially begun, and the average consumer has a lot to do: shop for gifts, prepare for family, make travel arrangements, plan holiday meals and more. Unfortunately, this is also a busy season for scammers looking to steal your money or personal information. With your mind on finding the perfect gifts and best deals, they hope you won’t be watching for fraud. That’s why your Better Business Bureau is here to remind you of common holiday scams to help you stay sharp this season:

Seasonal employment scams

Many companies and industries hire extra employees during the holidays to help with increased business. This is a perfect opportunity for scammers to put out fake help wanted ads. Use these tips to stay safe while looking for seasonal job opportunities:

• Know the signs. Being aware of the red flags of employment scams can help you avoid them. Employers asking for upfront payment for a job, job offers without interviews and big money for small jobs are all major signs of employment scams.

• Don’t work before you’re hired. A legitimate company will not ask you to begin a project before hiring you. Before starting any work, ask for an offer letter or for confirmation in writing. This should include details about the job and compensation.

Hot Toy Scams

Each year, a few toys are more popular than the rest, and when they begin to sell out in stores, parents look elsewhere to find them. They might find a legitimate looking website that claims to have them, maybe even on sale! Unfortunately, after purchasing the toy, it never arrives, and they discover the website and offers were fake. These tips can keep your wallet safe when searching for this year’s hot toys:

• Buy from reputable retailers. Buying directly from stores, in person and online, that you know and trust is the best way to avoid being scammed. You can go to their business profile on bbb.org to find their rating and customer reviews. Also be sure their website has valid customer service information.

• Watch for extra-low prices. Unreasonably low prices and discounts are often red flags of a scam. Remember, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Delivery Scams

Delivery scams and package theft can take several forms. They may be phishing emails from scammers posing as the delivery company, or fake “missed delivery” tags, which attempt to get your personal information. Some consumers find that packages are stolen off their doorstep before they arrive home from work. To avoid these situations, use these tips:

• Take precautions. If you are having a fragile or valuable item delivered, purchase shipping insurance. You can also track packages, or request that a signature be required for the package to be delivered.

• Watch for emails about missed deliveries. Most legitimate delivery services leave a missed delivery notice on your door. An email could be a phishing scam.

Have safe and happy holidays, from everyone at BBB serving the Heart of Texas!

Emily Gaines is a public relations coordinator with the Better Business Bureau for the Heart of Texas.