How to avoid internet scams this holiday season

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – It’s the holiday season, which means more scammers are out looking for their next victims, especially on the internet.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) ​​Serving Mississippi CEO John O’Hara shared what Mississippians should be watching out for.

“It’s the pop-up ads, first of all. There are several that I’ve already seen where people have tried to buy Christmas ornaments or Christmas decorations that you can’t find in the store. People have reported that they thought they were getting these six-foot Christmas balls, but they were six-inch Christmas balls. They paid $119 for three Christmas balls about this size, and they said it was an ad that they had got through on Facebook. So, you want to watch links. You want to watch these great ads that come out. There was one scam that was really big here in Mississippi last year — puppy scams. That did come through social media where people are posting pictures of puppies. You see them all the time. They think they’re buying a loved one a dog and they’re paying all this money and they have all these cute pictures. They keep saying it’s a delay or you need to pay extra money for insurance. What you’ll end up finding out is it’s a fake website. They just have grabbed pictures off the internet,” he explained.

He also warned of social media gift exchanges.

“I’m laughing because we did have some. Actually, we had some teenage girls down in Raleigh last year that we contacted because they started one of these gift exchanges. We reached out to them, and they didn’t realize that first of all, they’re pyramid schemes, and they’re illegal. They start where it’s like a Christmas tree or you’re paying $10 and you’re going to buy a gift and as many people as you sign up. At the end, you’re supposed to end up with $100 and then they sign up 10 people. What you really end up with, is maybe losing some close friends when they didn’t get anything, and you were the one who actually friended them to go ahead and participate,” he said.

O’Hara shared his tips for safe holiday shopping on social media.

“It’s a good place to maybe get some information. But what you should do is really research the companies you’re buying from. What you’ll see in a lot of cases is that these websites have been developed in the last two or three months. Is it even in the United States? We have people who are buying stuff and they don’t realize it’s coming from say China and it’s going to take two or three months for it to get here. We have a lot of really good local businesses here in Mississippi. People should save some of their money to shop there, but a lot of people do shop online and there’s plenty of ways to do it safe and secure,” he said.

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