The holidays are a time of joy and wonder but scammers see it as a time to take extra advantage of people looking to surprise their loved ones with fun new items. Here are the top 12 holiday scams going on right now that you need to be on the look out for. Don’t become a victim this holiday shopping season.
1.) Look-alike sites
Always shop at reputable or well-known websites. If a deal looks too good to be true, it is. Also, it is very easy to clone the look and feel of a reputable website. A scam site will simply take your money and run. They may even keep and re-use your personal information or credit card information. Be sure to check your URLs and never click links in emails.
2.) Shipping notification scams
We are all doing a lot more online shopping this year and I am sure you are familiar with receiving shipping updates on your purchases via email. Fake notification emails will have attachments or links that they require you to click on that will either download malware to your computer, steal your identity, or steal other personal information (such as your passwords).
3.) Fake charities
This time of year is also a popular time for people to give to various charities. Scammers use fake charities to steal money from people. Make sure that the charity you are attempting to donate to is a real charity and you are on their real website before you give them a dime. You can always check the legitimacy of a charity on give.org.
4.) Social media gift exchanges
Purchasing one gift and receiving 36 in exchange sounds great! It is a total scam. Don’t fall for it.
5.) Travel scams
Travel bargains are always tempting but most are simply scams. Be very wary of who you book a holiday through online.
6.) Your family member needs help scams
Scammers target older adults all year long but the holidays really bring out the worst. If you, or a loved one, receives a call about another family member being arrested, in an accident, hospitalized while travelling, etc. and they request that you *immediately* wire money for bail or attorney fees, hang up the phone! This is a very popular scam. Don’t fall for it. Never send money without true verification of an incident of this nature. Fear is a powerful motivator and criminals know it.
7.) Temporary holiday job scams
There are a ton of temporary jobs out there for the holidays in so many industries. Be wary of any that ask you to share personal information online or ask you to pay them for job leads.
Electronic cards are fun to send and receive but if you ever get one that asks you to give away information in order to simply see who sent you an e-Card, delete it! Scammers are simply fishing for your personal information.
9.) Letters from Santa
There are quite a few reputable companies out there that offer cute “letters from Santa” that you can purchase, personalize, and send to loved ones. However, scammers use this service to trick people into giving them their personal information. You can always check if a company is legitimate by searching the Better Business Bureau’s website at bbb.org.
10.) Gift card scams
A popular holiday scam is the “free gift card” scam. You may be browsing the web and get a pop-up ad or see one in your social media feed stating they are giving away free gift cards – never click on these. No one – NO ONE – is giving away free anything online. They simply are going to steal your personal information and/or money.
11.) Pet purchase scams
Puppies and kittens are popular holiday gifts but be very careful about buying one online. You may receive something you did not order (a puppy-mill pup with all sorts of health problems, a breed you didn’t order, etc.) or simply nothing at all.
12.) Unusual forms of payment
If someone asks you to pay for any purchase using a strange form of payment (such as a prepaid debit card, wire transfer, a gift card, etc.) odds are good they are scamming you. Those types of payments are not traceable and cannot be recovered once given away.