Scams Targeting Holiday Shoppers

Jordan Kadlec

holiday scams

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – for scammers that is. With the holiday shopping season in full force, scammers are busy targeting shoppers with phishing emails, faux retailer websites, fake shipping notifications, and bogus charities.

Better Business Bureau Warns About Fake Charities

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) issued a warning on fake charities that arise during the holiday season. Scammers are more active during December and are attempting to prey on your generosity and kindness. Disguising themselves as legitimate charities, scammers are targeting elderly and exploiting children, law enforcement, and diseases like cancer to swindle you into giving money.

Baton Rouge BBB communications director Christina Johnson says it’s on the donor to be vigilant in researching organizations you are donating to.

“Knowing what you’re supposed to be doing and how you’re supposed to check into those organizations is your responsibility as a donor,” said Johnson. “If they’re armed with the right information, and they know what to look for, then they’re going to be able to protect themselves. Then what can the scammers do?”

Phishing Emails and Faux Retailer Websites

Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, online fraud attempts rose 22 percent last year. Through phishing campaigns, scammers are targeting shoppers’ holiday budgets with scams such as lookalike retailer websites. In this time of the year, shoppers are particularly interested in the latest sale. As such, scammers are becoming more sophisticated with their phishing emails; making them look like a legitimate sale from a legitimate company. The scammers don’t stop there, however. They are now making faux websites that you are redirected to when you click on the sale link.

With this type of scam, criminals are looking to steal your credit card and other information upon checkout. To avoid becoming a victim of such a scam, pay close attention to your browser. Make sure the browser shows a lock symbol and a web address starting with an “https” versus “http” – meaning it’s secure.

In another, perhaps more cruel phishing scheme, scammers are taking advantage of children who want a letter from Santa. Companies such as Letters from Santa Claus and Official North Pole Mail offer letter writing and sending services; offering your child the opportunity to receive an actual letter from Santa. However, be careful which company you choose and what kind of personal details you give out. The big risks here are that your child won’t receive a letter from Santa and you could be providing key details to a scammer who will use it to commit fraud or identity theft. Make sure to check for reviews and a good BBB rating before choosing a company and think twice before providing details such as your child’s date of birth.

Fake Shipping Notifications

If worrying about your package being lost or someone stealing it off your porch wasn’t enough, scammers are giving us another reason to worry about the shipping process. This particular scam shows up as an email purportedly from a big retailer or from a shipping company such as UPS or FedEx. Normally, it’s an extremely vague warning about a shipping delay or some other problem to entice you to click on a link to get more information. However, doing so could trigger a malware download.

Should you receive such an email, go to the retailer or shipper’s site directly instead. By doing this, you can look up your order status using details such as an order confirmation or tracking number. Taking this extra step could save you money spent on recovering your files or purchasing an entirely new computer.

Photo courtesy of AARP.com

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