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BBB: Holiday shoppers - beware of fake deals, counterfeit items

  • Special to The Eagle
  • Published Friday, Dec. 6, 2013, at 6:57 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013, at 7:35 a.m.

Consumers would be wise to take precautions before settling down for a long winter’s nap because scammers never seem to rest.

The Internet continues to be favored over chimneys as a way for the unscrupulous to gain entrance into the lives of the unsuspecting. Here are scams number 9 through 7 in our continuing list of the ways holiday shoppers could be victimized.

Scam number 9: Fake “deals” on must-have gift items

Scammers know the pressure that Santas are under to get the latest, hottest electronic gizmos for kids who are clamoring for them. Stretched budgets can feel the strain of the high prices some of those devices are asking.

That’s why that online advertised price that seems so much lower than others can be a real temptation this time of year.

Remember that the hottest gifts rarely have low prices. The demand during the Christmas rush is not conducive to lowered prices. More people wanting a product can drive prices up.

Keep that in mind when you are looking at an unbelievably low advertised price. There is something wrong with that picture.

Be sure the site that advertises the price is legitimate before clicking on it. It could be a link that will attach malware to your device.

Scam number 8: Counterfeit merchandise

Burberry scarves, Louis Vuitton handbags, Ugg boots, Lacoste shirts and Nike sneakers are just a few of the products that have been sold in counterfeit form on the Internet. Knock-offs of well-known brands may be inexpensive but they are also cheaply made, impossible to return and illegal.

Here are some tips for avoiding fake brand-name items when shopping:

• Shop on reputable websites. If you are considering a product from a little-known website, do some research on that site by entering its name plus a word like “scam” in a search engine and checking for postings by unhappy customers.

• Consider buying directly from the brand’s website.

• Use caution on Craigslist and eBay or similar sites where you cannot examine merchandise before buying.

• Beware of any deal that seems too good to be true.

Scam number 7: Fake holiday job offers

Knowing that many of us seek temporary jobs this time of year to earn some extra holiday money, scammers routinely post “offers” for such jobs on sites like Craigslist. They can promise unrealistically high wages for easy tasks; they can say no experience is necessary, and that your “drive” and “ambition” are all you need to get hired.

The jobs can be mystery shopping or online work-at-home schemes.

Here are some red flags for spotting “employment opportunities” that are scams:

• They promise big bucks for simple tasks.

• A job offer comes unexpectedly and from a stranger. An offer even before you fill out an application? Even before they meet you? They probably just want your Social Security number and bank information.

• They request an upfront payment. Run the other way because it’s almost certainly a scam.

• You are asked to wire money. Scammers know that a wire transfer is gone forever. You should know that, too.

• They give no details in writing. In that case, give them no more of your time.

• They are reluctant to give you references. Be just as reluctant to work for them.

Denise Groene is state director of the Better Business Bureau of Kansas. Reach the BBB at 800-856-2417 or www.kansasplains.bbb.org.

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