Aruba, December 24, 2018 – €˜Tis the season for holiday shopping, and consumers are expected to spend more this year than they did in 2017.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects U.S. holiday retail sales to top last year’s, with Americans expected to spent a total of $682 billion. Meanwhile, Canadian consumers plan to spend slightly more than they did in 2017, averaging more than $1,500 each, according to PwC Canada.

As shoppers set records on spending, Better Business Bureau urges consumers to be prepared for scammers looking to take a bit of your holiday cheer. BBB shares “The 12 Scams of Christmas” and ways to identify and avoid:
Look-Alike Websites – Many consumers will see an increase in the number of email alerts announcing deals, gifts, and sales. While mailers can look legitimate, the links may lead to look-alike websites meant to trick you into entering private information or give scammers an opportunity to download malware onto your computer. To protect themselves, consumers should:
· Review the sender’s address, as businesses will often send emails with a proprietary address, like;
· Look for misspellings throughout the email;
· Hover over links without clicking to see where they reroute;
· Only enter sensitive information into a website that begins with “https” as the “s” informs you that it’s secure and information entered is encrypted.
Social Media Gift Exchange – Purchasing one gift and receiving several in return may sound like a harmless way to give and receive presents, but this seasonal scam is a pyramid scheme, which is illegal.
Grandparent Scams – Scammers target seniors posing as a grandchild or other family member and claim they have been in an accident, arrested, hospitalized or another urgent issue. The circumstance often requires money be sent immediately to resolve. Targets should:
· Verify the situation by calling the family member in question directly;
· Check with other family members to see if the claims are true;
· Be wary if you’re asked to wire money or send gift cards in place of making a payment with a credit card.
Temporary Holiday Jobs – Many businesses require a little extra help with the holiday rush and often seek temporary employees, but beware of fraudsters who attempt to glean personal information from applicants. Job seekers trying to avoid this scam should:
· Apply for to the job in person or by going directly to the retailer’s website (not following links);
· Be wary of anyone requiring you to hand over personal information over the phone or online before meeting for an interview;
· Be suspicious of a job that requires you to pay for equipment or software upfront.
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