SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - While most people are busy spreading holiday cheer, some Grinches are out there ripping people off.

'Tis the season for scam artists. Sheryl Bilbrey of the San Diego County Better Business Bureau warns one of the most common scams this time of year is delivered straight to your email account -- a legitimate-looking message supposedly from either UPS or FedEx.

"Using their logo, using a photograph and asking you to click through, because there's a concern with your delivery," Bilbrey explained.

But beware, and hit delete. It's a so-called "phishing" scam most likely intended to steal your identity.

"They are looking for information from you, or to deliver malware and viruses on your computer," Bilbrey said.

Another easy target for scam artists are those ever-popular gift cards.

"You want to be very careful that gift cards purchased at the store haven't been tampered with," Bilbrey said.

Specifically, make sure that silver coating concealing the card's security code on the back has not been scratched off. Thieves write down the numbers before it's purchased, register it online, then wait until you actually pay for it.

"And they wait for you to activate it, and use it online immediately after you activate it," Bilbrey said.

Another holiday headache are email links to those "Grinch greetings" -- phony versions of holiday e-cards you find in your inbox.

"It is another way for a con artist to look for access into your computer, so you need to be wary of clicking through any emails that are from an unknown sender," Bilbrey said.

Before hiring someone to clean out your chimney, or any other kind of contractor, do your homework.

"You want to make sure they have the appropriate insurance, and you want to be careful who you are letting in your home this time of year," Bilbrey said.