5 gifts from scammers you don't want under your Christmas tree

Cristina POPOV

December 18, 2023

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5 gifts from scammers you don't want under your Christmas tree

"Travel to an exquisite destination this Christmas!" "Unforgetable New Year's Eve offer!" "Your secret Santa sent you a parcel!" "Last minute gift shopping offer" and the list of most common subject lines in phishing emails could go on and on.

Scammers like to exploit ongoing events and love Christmas and New Year's Eve for a reason: people are busy and less vigilant than usual. Therefore, they take their time to set traps with tempting deals— flights, hotel bookings, or restaurant reservations. They may even pose as your Secret Santa or appeal to your giving spirit with fake charity causes.

Even the most cautious can fall victim, as sometimes, scammers reach out about a parcel when you're eagerly waiting for one or a discount for a trip when you're searching for a getaway.

You deserve genuine connections and offers. To keep these grinches away, the first step is to know their tricks.

5 Worst Christmas Scams:

  • Online Shopping Fraud - Be wary of social media ads/ messages leading to fake online stores. Scammers use them to get your money, credit card details, or personal info.
  • Christmas Delivery Scams - Fake delivery notifications via SMS. Watch out for scammers claiming your package delivery is delayed or you must pay a fee to get it.‍
  • Travel Scams - Bogus deals for exquisite destinations or airline tickets. Scammers may try to sell you fake tickets or make you book an accommodation that is not available in reality.
  • Gift Card Scams - Scams could revolve around buying and selling fake gift cards or tricking you into giving up the numbers on the backs of your gift cards.
  • Charity Scams - Scammers create fake charity websites or campaigns to trick you into sending money or sharing your personal information. ‍

Why scammers work extra hours during the holidays

Their goal is to catch you off guard and to steal your personal information like your name and address, credit card or bank account numbers, or Social Security numbers.

Once in possession of your data, they can buy things with your credit card, access your bank account, take out loans in your name, steal your tax refund, or commit other crimes, pretending to be you.

3 things you can do to avoid being scammed

1.      Learn to recognize the warning signs

While email is the primary delivery method for phishing attacks, scammers also use phone calls (vishing), fraudulent text messages (smishing), social media messages, and fake websites.

Regardless of how they contact you, here are some red flags: the out-of-the-blue aspect, a sense of an "emergency," money involved, secrecy, request for personal information, and "it sounds too good to be true" feeling.

Don't respond to them; above all, don't click on links or attachments or reply to requests for personal details. Any interaction with an attacker can expose you to unnecessary risks.

2. Boost your device security

Use spam filters on your devices/ emails and phone spam filters, and block spam numbers on your smartphone. Scammers have learned how to bypass basic device security, so consider installing antivirus software on all your devices to protect you against malware and scams.

3. Don't Click on "Too Good To Be True" Offers

During the holiday season, you will probably see a lot of promotions that seem "too good to be true" in your email and on social media sites. Don't click on them before checking out if they are from reputable retailers. Be especially vigilant if you see a shortened URL, as this makes it much easier for cybercriminals to disguise their malicious links and trick you.

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Cristina POPOV

Cristina is a freelance writer and a mother of two living in Denmark. Her 15 years experience in communication includes developing content for tv, online, mobile apps, and a chatbot.

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