‘Tis the season to be jolly, and also to be victimized by holiday scams.
Most scams are year-round, but the bad guys get especially active around the holidays because they think we are so busy looking for bargains that we won’t notice it’s a scam.
If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is – you’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating.
Americans are set to spend a record $209.7 billion buying gifts online.
A record $394 million was lost to online shopping scams last year and with inflation surging, those who are desperate for deals will be even more susceptible to scams this year.
Avoid these holiday scams.
Before making any online purchases, make sure the device you’re using is up-to-date with the latest security software. That also includes electronic kid’s toys, your refrigerator that reminds you to buy milk, even the specific store or coupon apps you use.
Look at your accounts and ask, do they each have strong passwords? And even better, if multi-factor authentication is available, are you using it?
Find more cyber security tips on this US Government website, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Agency.
The scammers are betting on your curiosity. They win, you lose.
I have been getting emails from senders claiming to be Fedex, UPS, Amazon and even Western Union telling me my order or money transfer has been delayed, and to “click here” to resolve the issue. Not happening.
I have received multiple emails renewing my subscription to the Geek Squad and to “click here” to verify the purchase. Since I never had a subscription, it’s not possible to renew a subscription I never had. – Obviously a scam, but if you recently renewed your own Geek Squad subscription, you would might click on the link.
I just received an email claiming to be from Janet Yellen, telling me my remittance is being held up because she noticed some fraudulent activity. Yea, right.
- The scam email identifies her as “Secretary for International Finance of United States Treasury Department”. There’s no such thing. Ms. Yellen is US Secretary of the Treasury.
- The scam email has a .do address – which is the Dominican Republic.
- Why would the US Treasury Secretary send me an email from .do?
- Only a complete sucker would respond to an email from 20001234@ – and with a .do
Bottom line –
Do not click any links in emails. Track your delivery or money transfer only on the company’s official website.
Avoid heavily-advertised charities which are likely to resell Old Breakdown for scrap. You could do that yourself.
If you want to donate, give only to top-rated charities. Check them out on CharityNavigator.com or another charity monitoring site.
Gift cards are a great holiday gift, and you can save money by purchasing gift cards from resale sites like GiftCards.com. However, scammers are on these sites selling gift cards that arrive with no balance.
Buy gift cards directly from brands that you know and trust.
Triple check the spelling of the URL. Fake sites are often one letter off or have a dash where one should not be, such as Western-Union.
Check the email of the sender. Don’t click if the email is from westernunionfb1@ or such – as the recent scam email I received
Once again, do not click on any links from emails sent to you. Go directly to the company’s official website.
This is busy season for the romance scammers. So are the weeks before Valentine’s Day.
Don’t answer the phone unless you recognize the caller ID.
Scammers now are able to mimic a phone number similar to your own, to make you think it’s a call from a neighbor, or maybe from your kid’s school. It’s called spoofing.
Use the “block caller” feature if your phone provider offers it, to prevent future calls from that robo-scammer.
Grandma, I was in an accident and need money.
Congratulations, you’ve won a year’s supply of something or other.
Have you ever been scammed? Let us know.
This article has been published annually since 2015
and has been updated for 2022.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter is a journalist with 20+ years of experience as a newspaper and magazine writer, radio & TV news producer & reporter, and author of guidebooks and smartphone apps – all focusing on travel, automotive, the environment and your rights as a consumer.
Contact me at email@example.com.
Also follow my NYC website, NYC Travel Guru
Copyright (C) Evelyn Kanter