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The 12 Scams of Christmas

The holidays are upon us! This means lots of cooking, cleaning, and preparing for time with loved ones. Unfortunately, it also means that scammers are preparing for a big payday while everyone’s shopping online. Below are some popular scams to watch out for: 

  1. Pop Up Stores- Some of these are legitimate but be wary of stores offering the “it” toy when other stores are sold out, or for much cheaper than other stores. These scammers take customers’ money, then disappear. 
  1. Phishing – This is when someone gets your credit card number and buys things or sell the information. This could be a biproduct of scam #1.  
  1. Bogus Charities – Scammers take advantage of holiday giving and set up phony charities. Sometimes these charities are based around real events (e.g., the California wildfires) to make them sound legitimate.  
  1. E-Cards – You receive an email saying you’re been sent an ecard. When you click the link, you could be a victim or phising or a virus could be sent to your computer.  
  1. Travel Scams – If you find an incredible deal online and are instructed to pay in gift cards, it’s a scam. 
  1. Gift Card Scams – Beware that scammers can easily scan the number on the back of the card and drain it before it’s purchased! Make sure nothing is scratched off a gift card you buy or receive.  
  1. Grandparent Scam – The scammer calls you pretending to be a relative in distress who needs financial help. Usually they claim to need money wired to them by a certain deadline and tell you to keep it a secret “from their parents.” 
  1. Phony Email Alerts- The scammer sends out generic emails claiming to be from Amazon or FedEx that tell the victim there’s been an issue with their order and they have to confirm personal information otherwise their order will be cancelled. If the victim clicks the link in the email, their computer is at risk. There’s a similar version of this scam with text messages! 
  1. Gift Exchange Scams – If you use Facebook, beware of a popular scam disguised as a Secret Santa gift exchange. The scammer claims that if the victim donates a gift worth $10, they will receive a large number of gifts (usually in the 30s-40s). This is actually a pyramid scheme and has been addressed by the Better Business Bureau.  
  1. Holiday Job Scams – It’s not uncommon for people to want to pick up extra work around the holidays. Scammers use this as an opportunity by posting job listings for jobs that don’t exist. They may also ask for money to be send upfront before the victim can be paid.  
  1. Look-alike Websites – Scammers create deceptive websites that look like popular websites (e.g., Target.com), but purchases go straight to the scammer’s pockets.  
  1. Coupon Scams – We’re all looking to save money around the holidays but be wary of websites offering coupon codes or memberships. These links usually lead to scammers stealing money and personal information. 

Holiday Bonus: Porch Pirates 

  • You may have heard of “porch pirates” on the news. These scammers follow delivery trucks or drive around neighborhoods and steal packages off porches/doorsteps.  
  • Ways to combat Porch Pirates include requiring a signature, sending the package to somewhere other than your home (e.g., work, an Amazon locker, or pick up in store), or installing a cheap security camera.  

Tips 

  • Remember: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is! 
  • Don’t give out your personal information through email and only open emails from people you trust 
  • Use a credit card when shopping online  
  • Notice when you’re being pressured or must take action ASAP- these are usually tactics used by scammers  
  • Only buy from stores you trust and have heard of  
  • Remember: a charity would want a check made out to the organization, NEVER to an individual! 
  • Don’t pay for things with gift cards. This is a red flag that you’re dealing with a scammer. 
  • Remember: companies will never ask for personal information via email. 
  • Make sure your computer is protected with a firewall, anti-spyware, and anti-malware
  • Be wary of deals or jobs that require you to send money before being paid   
  • Make sure you’re on the website you want to be on- check for typos in the URL and a web URL that starts with https://  
  • If you’re buying on a website like eBay, pay through eBay/PayPal. Don’t pay the seller through a different website.  

If you have a concern about packages, contact one of the entities below: 

  • Amazon customer care: 1-888-280-4331 
  • UPS customer care: 1-800-742-5877 
  • FedEx customer care: 1-800-463-3339 

Click here to read our blog post about Covid 19-related scams.

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