Top 10 Holiday Scams

holiday scams

Dangerous Christmas Trends Everyone Should Be Aware Of This December

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

Watch the video below to see the most prevalent scams exposed:

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However, I have a few more below. Ready?

1. Bogus Gift Certificates

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

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

2. iTunes Gift Card

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

See the screenshot below:

itunes gift card for holidays

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

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 communicate with Facebook, X (former Twitter), and Instagram. 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 tiny 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 upfront 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 may do it from your smartphone or tablet while out in a coffee shop or mall. This way, you can check prices online with other outlets, too.

Be very wary; doing so could lead to your credit card information theft. 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). Your credit card information is at risk if you purchase an item online from a public place with free wi-fi.

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

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

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

When shopping online, make sure you use only secure sites, as 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.

If you feel a website might be suspicious, feel free to verify it using our unique Scam Detector validator for free. Click here to <a href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>check scam websites</a>.

6. Puppy For Christmas Gift

A massive number of children want a puppy for Christmas. Therefore, many parents look online for 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:

You contact the person, and they explain that they just moved out of the country. Meanwhile, 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 town at local stores – tons 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 that 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 cautious 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, a couple of “must-have” items appear on everyone’s Christmas list every year. Cyber-criminals have done their homework and are well aware of which things are also on the hit list.

They often build fake websites claiming 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; malware will infect your PC once clicked.

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

9. Make Extra Money During Holidays

While legitimate work-from-home opportunities exist, one must be very careful not to fall prey to the scams that seem to multiply daily during the holiday season. These fraudulent sites  require you to complete 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 you are considering working for. You can find a wealth of data simply by taking this one step. Be leery of giving your personal information to any company with a poorly constructed website or no history when you do an internet search.

10. Holidays Custom Credit Card

Many people affected by the pandemic have been looking for ways to provide a lovely 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 upfront.

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

Another scam that you should be aware of this season is the Secret Sister Gift Exchange Scam.

How To Report a Holiday Scammer

Warn your family and friends know about these holiday scams. Feel free to share the article if it was helpful. However, you can report crooks and any suspicious activity officially to the Federal Trade Commission, the Office of the Inspector General, and the FBI Internet Complaint Center by using the pages below:

Report To The FTC
Submit Claim To The Office of the Inspector General
Report To The FBI Internet Complaints Center

How To Protect Yourself More

Do you want to receive alerts about the most notorious scams on a regular basis? Subscribe to our scam alerts. You will receive periodic emails from Scam Detector with exclusive tips. Those will include info on how to prevent fraud and insights about the newest tools you can use to fight crime.

Feel free to explore additional articles on holiday scams. You can find them listed below this paragraph, so that you know more about online security. Last but not least, if you had any bad experiences, make sure to 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.

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