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Protect Yourself from Holiday Shopping Scams

The holiday season is a time of joy, festivities, and gift-giving. Unfortunately, it’s also a prime time for scammers to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers.
Scammers don’t feel the joy of the holidays in the same way, and they don’t take a break from their activities. Instead, they take advantage of the opportunity and ramp up their efforts even more.

As you embark on your holiday shopping adventures, it’s crucial to stay vigilant and be aware of potential scams that could threaten your financial security. Here are some common holiday shopping scams to watch out for and tips on how to protect yourself during the holiday season.

Common Holiday Scams

There are some common forms of holiday scams, with a common goal being to steal your payment information and ultimately your money.

Here are a few of the common scams to look out for this time of year:

1. Phishing Emails and Fake Websites:

One prevalent scam during the holidays involves phishing emails, e-cards, and fake websites. Scammers often send emails that appear to be from reputable retailers, offering too-good-to-be-true deals or claiming issues with your account. These emails may contain malicious links that launch malware on your device or lead to fake websites designed to steal your personal information.

Tip: Carefully examine the source before opening an email. Always verify the legitimacy of emails by checking the sender’s address and avoid clicking on suspicious links. Instead, visit the retailer’s official website directly by typing the URL into your browser.

2. Social Media Scams:

Scammers are adept at leveraging social media platforms to trick users into revealing personal information or making fraudulent purchases. Fake ads, contests, deals that are too good to be true, and giveaways can be particularly deceptive during the holiday season. Don’t take the bait.

Tip: Be cautious when clicking on ads and links on social media. Verify the legitimacy of promotions by visiting the official social media pages of the retailer or brand.

3. Gift Card Scams:

Gift cards are a popular holiday gift, but scammers have found ways to exploit them. Fraudsters may tamper with physical gift cards or trick individuals into providing the card numbers and PINs, allowing them to drain the funds.

Tip: Purchase gift cards directly from reputable retailers and inspect physical cards for signs of tampering. Be wary of sharing gift card information online or over the phone.

4. Delivery and Package Scams:

With the increase in online shopping, scammers often exploit delivery and package-related scams. This can include fake delivery notifications, phishing messages from fake courier services regarding your shipment, or even porch pirates stealing packages.

Tip: Track your packages through legitimate courier services and be cautious of unexpected delivery notifications. Consider using delivery lockers or requiring a signature upon delivery to minimize the risk of package theft.

5. Charity Scams:

The holiday season is a time for giving, and scammers take advantage of this by creating fake charities or impersonating legitimate ones. They may use emotional appeals to solicit donations for supposed causes.

Tip: Verify the legitimacy of charities by checking their official websites or contacting them directly. Avoid making donations through unfamiliar platforms or in response to unsolicited requests.

Best Practices To Keep Your Information Safe Everyday

There is enough activity and stress during the holiday season. The last thing you need to face is identity theft and loss of money from cybercrime. Try to slow down, be mindful of what you are doing and take precautions to help reduce your chances of falling victim to a scam.

  • Avoid unsolicited emails or text messages that ask you to click on a link to access a deal, arrange a delivery, or confirm information.
  • Watch out for spelling errors or shoddy grammar on a shopping site or in an email.
  • Hover over email links with your cursor before clicking or tapping; this will show the website’s URL (or whatever the actual source is).
  • Be skeptical of major discounts especially on hot gift items, especially those touted on social media posts or unfamiliar websites.
  • Use verified phone numbers or emails when there’s a problem with your order rather than using a link you’ve been sent.

As you navigate the holiday shopping season, keeping an eye out for potential scams is crucial to ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience. By staying informed and following these tips, you can protect yourself from falling victim to the tactics of fraudsters. Remember, if something seems too good to be true or feels suspicious, it’s essential to trust your instincts and take the necessary precautions.

If you think you have been a victim of cybercrime don’t delay taking action. Don’t let any embarrassment keep you from rapidly addressing the situation. Unfortunately, it happens to many. Here are some additional resources for information on fraud and scams, as well as helpful information on what to do and who to contact if you fall victim to a scam.