NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If you’ve checked your email or passed by a store window, you already know the holiday shopping season is well underway.
Turns out, it’s also prime time for scammers. The Retail Federation expects shoppers to spend more money this year than they have in over a decade, and whether you’re shopping in the store or online experts say buyer beware.
“Scammers use emotional hooks to get their victims,” Claire Rosenzweig from the Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan New York said.
One look at the BBB’s website shows all the scams that have targeted consumers in the Tri-State area. One of the newest ploys, says Rosenzweig, is the “secret sister scam” that’s sent through social media.
“Somebody is asking you to purchase something, a gift,” she said. “The idea is for you to send it to your friends, and have them send the gift to someone else.”
It’s basically a pyramid scheme, which is against the law. Rosenzweig says to be suspicious of any unsolicited offers and websites asking for personal information before making a purchase.
“The main thing that I would say to consumers is don’t click on that link,” Rosenzweig said.
Instead, she says go straight to the stores.
“I used to buy at reliable stores so I check the references, the reviews, customer reviews,” shopper Mara Dias said.
The scams aren’t new, and they’re getting more sophisticated over time. Experts say the old adage remains true, if the price looks too good to be true it probably is.
Shoppers are also encouraged to only use a credit card when making purchases online. That way, they’ve got added protection in case they have to dispute any charges.