Top 10 Holiday Scams

Dangerous Christmas Trends Everyone Should Be Aware Of This December

During holidays, people are always giving, generous, and open-hearted. However, the Christmas spirit represents a two-edged sword when it comes to purchasing things online for those we love. Every year, the number of fraudulent activities is increasing. Here is a list with Top 10 holidays scams this Christmas, exposed for consumers’ protection.


1. Bogus Gift Certificates

Everyone is on social media these days. That includes cyber-criminals, as well. Oftentimes during the holiday season, scammers promote fraudulent gift certificates using social media as their forum. What they’re really looking for is personal identification information which is then sold to other cyber-crooks. How do they get you in their hook?

Watch the video below to see a full report on Gift Card Holiday Scams:

Gift Card Holiday Report Video


2. iTunes Gift Card

You might receive an email claiming to be from iTunes (see image below). The text will read: “You sent a iTunes Gift Card $200 to (teamtazdojo at Your receipt No.114509772‏”. A gift card image is presented, as well as an invoice.

The trick is: the invoice provides a link offered “to cancel” if you don’t recognize the transaction. Needless to say, if you click on it you are taken to a fake website where you are asked for personal information.

itunes gift card holidays


Always get your iTunes cards from…iTunes or their official reps. Random emails sending you to questionable websites are out of the question.


3. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Deals

Most of us use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to communicate. Let’s say you’ve posted something about a holiday gift you are trying to find. Within minutes, you receive a direct message (or are tagged by another user) offering to sell you the item you are looking for. This trick could easily be a sophisticated scam. From landing on a replica website of a legitimate shopping store to hijacking your credit card number is just a small step. December is also the month with the most counterfeit goods sent as originals to purchasers.

Unless you know the person that has messaged or tagged you, think twice before accepting any offers. If you do decide to take a chance, never pay up front for any item purchased this way. Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it most likely is.


4. Wi-Fi Trap 

You decide to shop online for Christmas gifts, but don’t want your family to be able to check the history on your home computer to see what you’re buying. Instead, you maybe decide to do it from your smartphone or tablet while you are out in a coffee shop or mall. This way, you are able to check prices online with other outlets too.

Be very wary; doing so could lead to theft of your credit card information. Scammers often put out a Wi-Fi signal that has a similar name to the place you’re at (malls and coffee shops typically have free wi-fi). If you purchase an item online from a public place with free wi-fi, your credit card information is at risk.

The best way to avoid cyber-criminals is never to enter your credit card information while using Wi-Fi in a public place. Remember, while you are online shopping for gifts, they are online shopping for easy-to-steal credit card information.

5. Duplicate Websites

Cyber criminals will stop at nothing trying to obtain personal information from their victims. This includes the elaborate scheme of building complete copies of well-known sites, then sending emails promoting great deals.

Of course, once you have “shopped” on their site – for merchandise that never arrives – your credit cards have been compromised, and possibly your identity as well.

Whenever shopping online make sure you are using only secure sites, indicated by the https:// in their web address. If the address begins with http://, steer clear. This is an unsecured site and your information could be compromised.

6. Puppy For Christmas Gift

A massive number of children want a puppy for Christmas. Therefore, many parents look online to find the perfect gift for their kids. If you are one of them, you might find someone willing to give a pet away (or sell one for a small price). The pictures are cute, and you fall in love with the animal. It could even be advertised as a “perfect Christmas gift for your kid or his/her birthday”. How does the scam work?

Watch the video below to see the Pet For Christmas Scam exposed:

Pet Scam Exposed Video

You contact the person and they explain that they just moved out of the country. Meawhile, they say the pet has a horrible time accommodating to the new climate. After exchanging a few emails and building trust, the ‘owner’ of the animal will only require that you pay for the shipping, asking in return that you promise to take good care of the pet.

After you wire the money, it will be the last you hear from them, since the pet never existed in the first place. The scammer just used Internet pictures with cute puppies.

The crook could also approach victims by saying his spouse died and now he needs to get rid of all the things that remind him of the deceased.

Buy pets from your own town, at local stores – there are tons that need love. This way, you can go and pick them up yourself.


7. Holidays E-Card

During holidays, many people send e-cards to their loved ones. But beware of ones received from unknown senders. Many scammers proceed to send malicious e-cards which contain malware that will infect your computer upon opening.

Simply put, never open e-cards from people you don’t know, no matter how enticing the subject line may be. Be especially leery of e-cards sent to your work address; you don’t want to be job hunting after the holidays because you infected the entire server at your workplace!

8. Shopping Trends

Traditionally, every year there is a couple of “must-have” items that appear on everyone’s Christmas list. Cyber-criminals have done their homework and are well aware of which items are on the hit list as well.

They will often build fake websites that claim to contain the items at almost too good to be true discounts. These websites get pushed high onto search engines, ensuring a steady stream of clicks; once clicked, malware will infect your PC.

The best line of defense is a good offense. Keep your web browser fully updated to ensure you will receive warnings of unsafe sites before clicking on them.

9. Make Extra Money During Holidays

While legitimate work from home opportunities do exist, one must be very careful not to fall prey to the work from home scams that seem to multiply daily during the holidays season. These fraudulent sites will require you to fill out a form with personal identifying information such as your social security number. This, of course, results in identity theft. The worst of these sites involve actual work – laundering money from cyber-heists.

Do your homework. Do an internet search of the name of the company for which you are considering working. You will be able to find a wealth of data simply by taking this one step. Be leery of giving your personal information to any company that has a poorly constructed website or that has no history when you do an internet search.

10. Holidays Custom Credit Card

Many people who have been affected by the recession have been looking for ways to provide a nice holiday season for their families. Unfortunately, this leaves them vulnerable to Internet swindlers who advertise pay-in-advance scams for credit cards.

These emails (sent through spam) advertise “prequalified, super-low interest” credit cards and loans if the victim pays a processing fee up front.

Never believe pre-paid loan or credit card offers; they are simply not legitimate. No real lender is going to offer credit for an upfront fee. And always be wary of any offer that comes, unsolicited, to your e-mail. This is a red flag that the offer is bogus.


Holiday Scams: How To Report Them

Make your family and friends aware of holiday scams by sharing this article on social media using the buttons provided. You can also officially report the scammers to the Federal Trade Commission using the link below:

Report To The FTC Here


How to protect yourself more:

If you want to be the first to find out the most notorious scams every week, feel free to subscribe to the Scam Detector newsletter here. You’ll receive periodical emails and we promise not to spam. Last but not least, use the Comments section below to expose other scammers.

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selma hrynchuk
Selma HrynchukSelma is a fraud prevention specialist renowned for her expertise in private eye investigations and a remarkable partnership with law enforcement agencies. Beyond her investigative triumphs, her public speaking engagements and written works have empowered countless individuals to protect themselves and stay ahead of deceptive schemes. Selma's legacy shines as a tenacious agent of change, unyielding in her commitment to battling fraud and ensuring a safer world for all.

1 thought on “Top 10 Holiday Scams”

  1. A friend has received a 10th Anniversary Scratch and Win from Hearts Holiday with the address as No 86, Jalan Mawar 15, Tamam Mastika, 56100 Kuala Lumpur. She has won USD 175,000.00. IS THIS A SCAM?

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