Impostor calls, Secret Sister Gift Exchange could scrooge your holiday

Amazon, Apple robocallers are fakes targeting online shoppers, FTC warns

SAN ANTONIO – As holiday shoppers log on to Amazon in record numbers, scammers are stealing the moment - and maybe more.

The Federal Trade Commission warns that scammers are calling, pretending to be from Amazon trying to confirm a big purchase. A similar scam impersonates another big company, Apple, according to the FTC.

In the Amazon version, the caller says there is some sort of problem with a purchase. One call says an iPhone for $749 is being ordered. To cancel the transaction, the person is instructed to press one to cancel or to stay on the line to speak with someone.

In the Apple version, the caller says the person’s iCloud account has been breached and they shouldn’t use any Apple device until the suspicious activity is addressed. Again, the person is to press one or call back at a certain number.

The FTC says the calls are fraudulent, and are attempts to steal your account or credit card numbers or other personal information. Do not press one or call back at the given number, the FTC warns.

If you do suspect a real problem, look up the real contact information for yourself and verify. As for the calls, just hang up. They can also be reported to the FTC.

The Secret Sister or Secret Santa Gift Exchange is another scheme making the holiday rounds on social media, one that’s illegal, the Better Business Bureau warns.

“It’s a very fun pay-it-forward kind of scenario ... but the gift exchange quickly becomes something where it becomes illegal. It becomes a form of gambling,” said BBB Regional Director Jason Meza.

The scam begins with an invitation, typically through Facebook. You buy one $10 gift and will receive as many as 36 gifts in return. You provide your address and information, as well as that of some friends and you pass along the invitation.

While it may sound like fun, the BBB said it’s an illegal pyramid scheme.

“We don’t want people to be a Grinch,” Meza said. “We want you to know it could turn sour quickly when you are sending gifts to people you don’t know who are part of this list.”

While it’s fun to be included, the BBB said this is one invitation to decline.

About the Authors

Marilyn Moritz is an award-winning journalist dedicated to digging up information that can make people’s lives a little bit better. As KSAT’S 12 On Your Side Consumer reporter, she focuses on exposing scams and dangerous products and helping people save money.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.

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