1. Look-alike websites
We’ve all made mistakes when typing in a website address. A mistyped address usually results in a blank webpage or, in rare cases, a simple error message.
However, spelling errors can lead you to a scam website, where bad actors have created look-alike versions of popular online stores with similar (but incorrect) website URLs.
Look-alike holiday scams employ professional web designs to closely resemble the appearance and feel of a typical retailer’s site, but they are frequently riddled with errors such as typos, suspicious URLs, or incorrect customer service phone numbers. Because these sites are nearly exact replicas of official websites, it can be difficult to detect this type of online fraud.
2. Gift-giving pyramid schemes
Purchase one gift and receive multiples in return? It sounds appealing. Gift-trading Christmas scams, on the other hand, are illegal pyramid schemes.
These social media gift exchanges are referred to as “Secret Sister” exchanges by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The thief sends you phishing emails, e-cards, or social media messages with an appealing invitation: send one gift and receive up to 36 gifts in return.
When you realize that you will not receive any gifts and that your personal information is now in the hands of a criminal, the scam comes to life.
3. Fake job postings
Scammers prey on eager job seekers by creating phony job postings in order to steal money and personal information from applicants.
In this scam, cybercriminals ask for your personal information up front and even demand payment for job training or equipment materials before “starting the job.”
All applicants had to do was respond to a few generic email questions. As advertised, the applicants believed they were being given the opportunity to work at Denver International Airport.
They only realized as the application progressed that they were being coerced into sharing copies of sensitive documents for the role.
4. Grandparent scams
Seniors are more vulnerable to Christmas scams during the holidays.
Criminals frequently target grandparents with this audacious scam, in which they impersonate a grandchild or another young family member and ask for money to escape a dire situation. Elderly victims may wire funds to a fictitious account number only to discover that they have been duped.
5. Gift card scams
Gift card scams occur when an online vendor requests that you purchase gift cards to pay for an item rather than using a credit card or a payment app such as PayPal. According to the FTC, one in every four fraud victims paid with a gift card, making it a popular method for scammers to steal money from consumers.
Assume you find a great Christmas gift on eBay or Facebook Marketplace. Instead of paying with a credit card through a secure platform, the seller requests that you pay with a gift card. Once activated, the card is no longer trackable.
Another type of scam involves the distribution of free gift cards via unsolicited emails, phone calls, or text messages. Victims may be duped into providing personal information in order to claim these bogus cards.
6. The puppy scam
Thousands of children receive new puppies every Christmas. Puppy scammers, as if on cue, impersonate breeders and advertise phony litters for sale. Ads on social media offering puppies for sale at reduced prices raise an immediate red flag. Many bogus sellers also demand payment in advance to cover the costs of shipping, insurance, and vaccinations.
7. Travel phishing scams
Scams involving foreign vacations or local adventures may also be at an all-time high around Christmas. Profitable deals, particularly around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, entice eager vacationers to take advantage of discounted pricing.
You should, however, be wary of any offers that appear to be too good to be true. Travel phishing scams harvest personal information through social engineering on spoof travel websites.
Scam emails promoting free flights, guaranteed travel insurance policies, or low-cost vacation rentals should also be avoided.
What should you do if you are a victim of a Christmas Shopping Scam?
– Remove all contact immediately. Continue communicating with the scammers; you will only end up exposing more sensitive information.
Notify family and friends. Inform your contacts that they should not respond to any suspicious messages requesting money or information.
– Cancel all upcoming payments. If the cybercriminal has gained access to your bank account or other financial information, contact your bank immediately and cancel any charges. This should help safeguard you against other types of financial fraud.
-Put your credit on hold. A credit freeze (or credit lock) prevents identity thieves from opening new accounts or obtaining loans in your name. Request a credit freeze from each of the major credit bureaus. Alternatively, you can use Aura’s one-click credit lock to lock and unlock your Experian credit file in an instant.
– Change your passwords and usernames. If you’ve been hacked or phished, you must immediately change your usernames and passwords.
– Check your credit report and bank statements on a regular basis. Scammers are almost always after your financial information. Look for signs of identity theft, such as unusual charges on your bank statement or accounts you don’t recognize. Aura, an identity theft protection service, can monitor your credit and statements for you and alert you to any signs of fraud.
– Consider getting identity theft insurance. Aura’s top-rated identity theft protection keeps a close eye on all of your most sensitive personal information, online accounts, and financial transactions for signs of fraud. Aura can assist you in taking action if a scammer attempts to access your accounts or finances.