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5 Shopping Scams to Avoid this Holiday Season

November 30, 2023

Nowadays, most of us do at least some of our holiday shopping online. With this convenience comes a host of cyber risks. Here’s what you need to know about holiday shopping scams.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for scammers! We have some tips on how to keep yourself safe this holiday shopping season.

What scams are prevalent around the holidays?

  1. Phishing emails- The uptick in shopping, both in store and online, gives scammers the opportunity to send phishing emails pretending to be companies such as Amazon or Apple to offer “discounts” or “giveaways”. Watch out for unsolicited texts and emails offering special prizes or inflated discounts, and NEVER click on links you’re not familiar with. Additionally, watch out for messages from your “bank” alerting you that your account has been compromised. These phony messages are nothing more than scams to steal your personal information.
  2. Fake charities- Charity is top of mind during the holidays and scammers are there to take advantage of that. Be wary of charities with names similar to nationally known organizations—they could be phony! Take a minute to ensure that you’re donating to a legitimate charity. has a search feature, Exempt Organizations Select Check that allows you to find legitimate, qualified charities to which donations may be tax-deductible. Be cautious when receiving solicitations for donations via email, text, social media, and GoFundMe campaigns.
  3. Gift card scams- According to the Better Business Bureau, gift card payment scams have risen by 50% in the last year. Scammers love gift cards because they are easy to steal and difficult to track. Only buy gift cards from actual retailers—be cautious when purchasing from an online seller. Here are some warning signs from the BBB that it’s a scam:
    1. Online sellers requesting payment via gift card
    2. Threatening phone calls about overdue taxes or legal issues
    3. Solicitations for gift card numbers or PINs over the phone or online
    4. Check reimbursement promises
    5. Threats of identity theft
    6. Gift cards with altered or manipulated packaging (make sure the sticker over the pin has not been scratched off or replaced)
    7. Threatening phone calls about a loved one in trouble
  4. Missed delivery notification scam texts- There has been an uptick in fraudsters sending out fake delivery notification text messages. These scams typically include links that take you to fake websites asking for credit card numbers. Remember, FedEX, UPS and other delivery companies will never request credit card numbers or your social security number in order to locate your delivery. Here is an example:
    missed delivery
  5. Airfare scams- Scammers also target travelers during the holidays. With many people on the hunt for discounted airline tickets, scammers have the opportunity to take advantage by creating bogus flight booking websites. Here are some things to watch out for:
    1. Deeply discounted tickets
    2. Requests for money to rebook tickets as the flight has been “canceled”

Buying tickets directly from the airline is always your best option.

How to avoid holiday scams

Buyers and sellers, here’s how you can protect yourself this holiday season:

  1. Never click on suspicious links or attachments in emails, websites or social media.
  2. Don’t enter your information on a site without an “https” in the web address. Do your research before buying anything from a company for the first time. Check reviews and review their feedback rating.
  3. Avoid companies that request payment through pre-paid gift cards and never wire money directly to a seller. Check your credit card statement regularly to watch out for suspicious transactions. Your credit card company can help you dispute a charge.
  4. Get tracking numbers for things you buy online so you can monitor the delivery and payment process.

Happy Shopping! Wondering if something is too good to be true? We can help. Contact us.

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