How to Avoid Holiday Scams

Holiday Scams

Photo: dedMazay, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Holiday scams are in full swing as scam artists are at work for their busiest time of year. From attempts at credit card fraud to disappearing packages from your door step, thieves are constantly looking for opportunities to leave you in the cold this winter.

Here is a list of 8 common holiday scams that you should be on the lookout for and how to avoid them:

  1. Fake Websites:  Often times, scammers will create websites with the real company name, but adding symbols or small variations to the web address that are often overlooked by the consumer. When shopping online, make sure that you are on a verified website, with the “lock” in the URL.
  2. IRS Phone Scams: Unsolicited calls being made demanding payment for unpaid taxes. Calls often ask for credit, debit, or prepaid card numbers. The IRS Never:
    • Asks for credit card, debit card, or prepaid card information over the telephone
    • Insists that taxpayers use a specific payment method for tax obligations
    • Requests immediate payment over the telephone and will not take enforcement action immediately following a phone conversation. Tax payers typically receive prior notification of IRS enforcement regarding tax liens or levies.
    • IRS Scams can be reporting directly to the: Treasury Inspector General For Tax Administration.
  3. Fake Shipping Notifications: Emails are sent stating that an item has been shipped. If you do not recall the order/purchase, do not open the link as it will likely be encrypted with a virus or malware.
  4. Bogus Charities: Emails, letters, or door to door tactics are used to support a fake charity. Do your research before donating. Groups like the Better Business Bureau, Charity Watch or the IRS have many suggestions on how to donate safely.
  5. Free Gift Cards: Often used on social media or through email. Scammers ask for further information to “claim” the gift card. Another ploy to steal your personal information or download malware. Nothing is free!
  6.  Package Theft: One of the most popular holiday scams is for thieves to follow delivery trucks and steal delivered packages, right from your front door. To avoid this, require a signature or have packages held at a local service location.
  7. Card Theft: When shopping in stores or online, consider using your credit card instead of your debit. Credit cards offer more security and theft reimbursement.
  8. Temporary Holiday Jobs: The holiday season is a busy time for retailers and delivery services, requiring temporary job positions. Beware of solicitations that require personal information to apply for these jobs or for job leads. Search for job opportunities directly through employer websites to avoid this risk.

To find out more about holiday scams or to report one, visit the BBB Scam Tracker.