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Tips to avoid falling for holiday shopping scams

The BBB says the top motivating factor for people who made a purchase, then lost money, was price. Don’t shop on price alone.

TAMPA, Fla. — As you do your last-minute holiday shopping or even look to buy a puppy to surprise your family this year, be wary of the latest popular scams. 

The Better Business Bureau says it is seeing a spike in puppy scams already and usually sees a spike in gift card and charity scams this time of year as well.

"I've learned my lesson," Debbie Jackson said.

Jackson ordered a $200 3-foot dinosaur toy for her grandson through a seller on Facebook. But what arrived at their home in Florida was much different.

"It was a stuffed animal about the size of a foot and did not look like the actual dinosaur we ordered. It was a scam for sure," Christina Lewis, Jackson's daughter said.

That is one type of the many online scams the BBB is warning you must do your research to avoid.

"Look for that secure website, specifically that 'HTTPS'; go to the bottom of the website and look at the terms and conditions, privacy policy, address, phone number and research the address and how long the website has been created too," said Bryan Oglesby, public relations director at the BBB.

He says another popular one this year is puppy scams.

"More than double the scams reported to the BBB scam tracker this year has been puppy scams. So far this year over 4,000 people reported being victimized while trying to buy a puppy online," Oglesby said.

The BBB says the key here is to research the company and try to Facetime with them to see both the puppy and who you are doing business with.

"This time of year you also want to be careful of fake delivery scams, texts, emails and robo-calls claiming that your package is late. That's an effort to try to get your information," he said.

Signing up with the company's delivery tracking service when you order and save that number on your phone so if an unknown number pops up you'll know something is off. And remember, if the price seems too good to be true, that should set off red flags too.

"It's the first time I fell for it but it's going to be the last," Debbie said.

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