RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Secret Santa gift exchange is shared on social media every year, but it's illegal and is considered a form of gambling.
It typically starts with a post on Facebook or another social media platform.
Every year there is a different twist, where people are asked to send their favorite bottle of wine, book, or just a small gift to just one person on the list, and then they will receive several gifts in return. While it may seem harmless and some people may say it works, it is known as a pyramid scheme, which is illegal.
Fake holiday events are also being shared. The "event's" organizers advertise on social media, take your money, but then there is never an event.
Alyssa Parker with the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina said, "Make sure you research any organization putting on the event, see if there have been previous events, and it's always great to see if there is a track record."
The BBB also suggested you search online for the name of the festival and make sure the name advertised matches the website; and make sure the festival website has a real phone number and email address. Parker also said there is no way a festival can offer tickets at extremely low prices without losing money. If prices are much lower than elsewhere, it's likely a scam.
While scrolling through social media, also be wary of what appear to be harmless holiday surveys. Parker said they could lead to trouble. "Copy and paste surveys where you have to fill out personal information. That's just a big red flag because a lot of the questions they ask can be what get someone into your credit card online portal, your banking portal," said Parker.
The BBB offers these tips to avoid falling victim to social media scams this holiday:
- Beware of too good to be true offers, as they are likely to be scams.
- Beware of free trial offers. Once agreeing to the terms and conditions, consumers have reported they were then unknowingly signed up for monthly shipments of $70+
- Be cautious of sharing online. Scammers use the internet, especially social media, to find information on their victims so by sharing your personal information you could be feeding them just what they need to build a victim profile on you.
- Keep your receipts. Make note of all of your purchases and save your receipts. If you have a question about a product or need to make a return, you will have the vendor's information readily available.
- Research businesses ahead of time. Ask friends/family for references and look for reviews or complaints submitted against a business to prevent unnecessary issues later on.
- Know the return policy. Before making a purchase, ask the vendor what their return policy is so you will not run into issues after the holidays.
- Always shop with a credit card. This adds an extra layer of protection for purchases and if anything gets charged that wasn't supposed to, you can file a claim with your credit card company.