Between the decorations and the time with family, you’ll likely be searching online and making a few stops at stores and to pick up gifts for your loved ones, but there are a few things you should be aware of before you join the crowds of holiday shoppers. Unfortunately, this time of year is just as full of scams as it is holiday cheer, as unethical people will try to take advantage of your festive spirits for their own financial gain. While unsettling, it does occur, but you can protect yourself from these unethical practices by keeping yourself informed and staying one step ahead of their scams.
Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Here are the top five scams to avoid this holiday season:
- Gift Card Scams: Gift cards are mostly untraceable compared to traditional currency, making them the perfect target for scammers trying to make quick money. In some cases, scammers will pose as authority figures (government officials, members of the IRS, etc.) to try and intimidate you into sending them money. These scammers will often ask for gift cards as a form of payment, but as the FTC has stated, “whenever someone demands to be paid with a gift card, it’s a scam.”
- Charity Scams: The holiday season is characterized by the spirit of giving, and what better way to give back than a donation to a charity? Many people have this very same idea, but it’s so popular that scammers have designed methods to manipulate people out of their hard-earned money. The scammer in these situations will contact the victim either online or over the phone and attempt to rush people into making donations, all while using sentimental and vague language to disguise their wrongdoing. They may also try to convince you that you’ve already made a donation and try to collect a payment, but now that you know their methods, you can stop them in their tracks if they ever try to manipulate you.
- Fake Gift Exchanges: Gift exchanges are an excellent way to bring people together at this time of year, but this is yet another aspect of the holiday season that scammers have gotten their hands on. While the gift exchanges you participate in with your friends and co-workers are safe, the events you find on social media might not be what they seem, as many people have fallen victim to fake gift exchanges. These scammers promise participants that they’ll receive gifts from strangers after they send a physical gift or money to an anonymous third party, but these gifts never arrive at the person who trusted the exchange. A good rule of thumb to follow is: “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
- Package Delivery Scams: The number of people online shopping skyrocketed through the pandemic, so it’s no surpise that many Americans will be finding their gifts online rather than in a physical store. When you order something online, you likely receive a text or email notification when the package arrives at your residence. These texts are automated, and most people won’t read them intently, making them an easy avenue for any would-be scammers. These unethical individuals will send texts or emails that look similar to the delivery notifications and will include a link at the bottom of their message. The link is commonly fraudulent, leading those who click on it to websites containing malware, ransomware, or somewhere where you need to put in personal information. If you receive a notification about package delivery, you should take a moment to remind yourself of this scam and ask yourself, “Did I order something that should be arriving right now?”
- Fraudulent Websites: There’s always a new trend or item that dominates the holiday shopping guides that’s expensive and difficult to get your hands on. Parents with children who want these products are placed in a difficult position, as they will have to go to great lengths to find the product their kids want to open on Christmas morning. Scammers, understanding the hectic nature of the holidays, will create fake websites that advertise these popular and elusive products at low prices in an attempt to trick people. Unfortunately, the scammer never had these items in the first place, so they’ll disappear with the money and leave customers wondering where their package is. These websites may seem truthful, but they often contain minor inconsistencies in their URL or branding that can alert you to their fraudulence. During this stressful time of year, it’s best to only purchase from online retailers that you can trust or ones that you can verify their authenticity before making a purchase.
Morgan & Morgan Can Help
Scammers will take advantage of the giving and hectic nature of the holiday season to fraud innocent, unsuspecting shoppers out of the money they would have used to buy gifts for their loved ones. While the previously mentioned scams are popular within the scamming community, the list is not exhaustive, as there are many other methods that an unethical individual can use to commit fraud. However, by staying vigilant and taking some extra precautions, you can protect yourself from scams and have a holiday that you’ll remember for years to come.
If you find yourself as a victim of one of these scams, you should remember that Morgan & Morgan is always in your corner. Contact us today for more information.