6 Naughty Holiday Scams to Beware of This Season
‘Tis the season to be jolly! Unfortunately, though, not everything about the holiday season is all happy and nice. As always, scammers are on the scene, ready to turn the joyous season into a nightmare. Here are six naughty-list scams to watch out for this holiday season.
- Online shopping scams
In this classic scam, a shopper is lured into a bogus site that appears to belong to a popular retailer and proceeds to purchase an item that does not exist. Alternatively, a too-good-to-miss deal will be heavily promoted through pop-up ads and emails. In either scenario, the shopper will never receive the ordered item and won’t be able to reclaim their lost funds. In some cases, the product will be delivered to their home, but it will not be of inferior quality, in poor condition, or completely different from the advertised item.
Protect yourself: Only shop on reputable websites. Check the URL of each landing page you visit to ensure you are still on a trusted site. Also, if a deal seems too good to be true, it likely is.
- Charity scams
Here, a charity targets do-gooders in the weeks leading up to the holidays, asking for donations. Unfortunately the charity is completely bogus, and the money will go right into the hands of scammers. Sometimes, scammers will impersonate a well-known charity and use its name and/or logo to appear authentic.
Protect yourself: If you want to donate money to a specific charity, seek it out yourself instead of following a link or an ad. It’s also a good idea to verify charities on sites like Charity Navigator, GuideStar, or CharityWatch.
- Gift card scams
Gift cards have always been a popular choice for holiday gifting, but scammers have found ways to exploit them. In a gift card scam, fraudsters convince victims to share their gift card codes by pretending to be tech support or another believable contact.
Protect yourself: Never share sensitive information with an unverified contact.
- Porch pirates
In this simple but devastating scam, thieves stake out private residences and snatch up delivered packages from porches soon after they arrive. Scammers may even follow UPS and Amazon trucks so they can pilfer more easily. They’ll wear hats, hoodies, or masks to avoid detection via security cameras, and once they make off with the goods, there’s virtually no way to recover the packages.
Protect yourself: Track your ordered packages, and once you are notified that an item has been delivered, bring it inside immediately. If you aren’t home when an item is delivered, ask a neighbor to take it in for you.
- Travel scams
Traveling during the holidays can get expensive, and scammers know this. In holiday travel scams, they’ll offer vacation packages, or what looks like a dream vacation rental at rock-bottom prices. Then, they disappear once the victim has paid. Alternatively, the victim will arrive at their vacation to find it quite different from the way it was promised.
Protect yourself: Don’t believe travel deals are far too cheap for what they are offering. Research any travel agency you are using and be wary of sites and/or ads containing poor grammar and/or lots of spelling mistakes. Finally, be sure to read reviews on vacation rentals before booking and to do a reverse image search on the rental to see if it’s an authentic picture or stock photo.
- Romance scams
The holiday season can be lonely for some people, and romance scams tend to pick up this time of year. In this scam, a love interest will build a relationship with an unsuspecting target and then ask the victim for funds to help them out of a financial tight spot.
Protect yourself: Be wary of anyone who wants to build a relationship very quickly. It’s also a good idea to do a reverse image search on any photos a new love interest has shared with you to determine if it’s authentic. As always, never wire money to an unverified contact.
Don’t let scammers be your Grinch this Christmas. Watch out for these and similar scams, and use the tips outlined here to stay safe!