The holiday shopping season is in full swing and will peak within the first week of December. If you are planning to buy gifts online or from Infomercials on television, Better Business Bureau has a warning about the way retailers make money on your orders by charging separate shipping and handling fees. And regardless of where you order from, BBB cautions that shipping service phishing scams are intended to steal your identity or infect your computer.
Some retailers are finding ways to make extra money with special promotions such as "order now and we'll double your order," or "buy now and we'll include a free gift" – it may sound like a good deal at first, until you realize that you will be charged separate shipping and handling fees on each item, including the "free" gifts and the "bonus" products. All of these shipping and handling fees can actually add up to more than the total cost of the products you're ordering.
Recent consumer complaints allege deceptive advertising and sales practices, which include failing to disclose shipping and handling fees prior to purchase, and charging fees for products advertised as "free." BBB Tip
- If you are buying online or by telephone, make sure you know the full cost of shipping and handling before you authorize the transaction and your credit card is charged.
With only a few weeks left to get holiday cards and gifts sent to loved ones, another risk consumer's face is phishing scams. Scammers are pretending to be customer service personnel from some of the biggest names in business—including FedEx and UPS. Hackers are impersonating well-known companies in order to gain access to your computer drives, files and accounts to steal your personal information including Social Security, bank or credit card numbers.
Hackers send phishing e-mails from "shipping companies" claiming that there is a problem with package delivery. Commonly, the e-mail will include a hyperlink for recipients to click on that will take them to another Website that might install malware or solicit personal information. A message currently making the rounds has a subject line that looks like, "Subject: Tracking Number 13040065504." The body of the message claims that a package could not be delivered and advises the recipient, "to print the copy of the invoice that is in the added file." The attachment is actually a virus that will infect the computer. BBB Tip
- Instead of clicking on a link in this or any other suspicious e-mail, go directly to the shipper's Website or contact the company via telephone to confirm there is a shipping problem. Do not open attachments or click on links in any unsolicited e-mail.
For more consumer holiday tips, visit www.bbb.org/consumer-tips-holiday