It's the most wonderful time of the year for scam artists.

Opportunities to be swindled abound during the holiday season, as frenzied shoppers look to snag the hot new toy or show their generous spirit. To ensure that nobody's festivities are ruined, the U.S. Better Business Bureau is warning shoppers to watch for these common scams:

Fake Shopping websites

If prices on a site you've never heard of seem too good to be true, do a little homework before entering any credit card information. The BBB gets complaints every holiday season from shoppers who say they found great deals online, but never got the items they paid for.

Fishy Online Sellers

A hot holiday toy or gadget is sold out, but you find it for sale on a site like Craigslist. To prevent being taken in by scam artists, the BBB suggests arranging the transaction in person. If the site offers user ratings, carefully read the reviews of the seller.

Bogus Charity Pleas

Scammers tug on heart strings during the holidays to elicit donations for their own profit. Before making a donation, be sure you're familiar with the organization and how it distributes funds.

Phishing Emails

These are emails sent by hackers seeking personal information, such as bank account passwords, usually under the guise of a legitimate organization. Some common phishing ploys to watch for around for this time of year include holiday e-cards and messages pretending to be from companies such as FedEx with links to package tracking information.

Identity Theft

It's easy to misplace belongings when you're out and about and juggling multiple shopping bags. But losing your credit and debit cards can lead to the prolonged headache of identity theft. To save yourself the grief, make sure your wallet is tucked away in a secure place before you head out.

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