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How to avoid the biggest Christmas scam this holiday season

Rainbow Christmas Tree.jpg
Posted at 9:02 PM, Dec 21, 2021

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It's that time of year again, when many of us shop until we drop. At the same time, scammers are racing against time to fill their own pockets.

So pay attention to the biggest scam this holiday season: They call it the social media scam.

‘Tis the season — Not for the 12 days of Christmas, but instead, the 12 scams of Christmas.

MORE: Paul Mueller talks to experts who have advice for avoiding falling for the 12 Scams of Christmas.

"We always say that (scam artists) work in seasons, and so this is the holiday-gifting season,” the Better Business Bureau's Katie Galan.

It’s a time when many shoppers are looking to buy big-ticket items and spend a lot of money. It's a perfect time for crooks to lure you in with ads on social media.

The ads you see look real, but when the product comes in the mail, sometimes the fraud be so bold that all you can do is laugh.

“This is our Christmas tree,” said Queen Shaydonna Haynesworth. “This is a Christmas tree. I bought it off the Internet."

Queen fell for an Instagram ad for a rainbow-colored Christmas tree. When the package arrived a few weeks later, she found a tree that fits in the palm of her hand, and doesn't come close to touching the ceiling of her living room.

“Like seriously?” Queen asked. “Who is responsible for this?”

So before you buy, experts want to make sure you look out for a few things:

  • Just because the company’s ad or page is in English, their contact page may not be. It's best to double-check before you buy, just in case you need it.
  • grammar or spelling mistakes. They’re tell-tale signs you might not get what you think you're buying. Pricing and photos are the two biggest reasons people fall for fake ads.

"We always advise people to first do a reverse look up on Google,” Galan told us. “Very, very simple for people to do.”

Here’s how to do it:

  • Open up the Google Chrome mobile app.
  • Type in “images.google.com.”
  • After that, search for a photo that you want to reverse image.
  • Chose an image and tap it to enlarge it.
  • Hold your finger on the image until a menu pops up.
  • Finally, chose “search Google for this image.”

“Maybe they're saying, 'Hey, I live on Padre Island and I'm selling a golf cart,' ” Galan said. “Then you put an image of that golf cart and maybe it comes up in like Michigan or something.”

Just one more reason, Galan recommends putting privacy settings on your accounts. This way people can't steal your pictures and your info, use it as their own, and scam others.