With the holiday season officially upon us, shoppers are looking to check their holiday gift lists while also scoring the perfect deal. Unfortunately, the holiday season is also a time for scammers looking make a quick buck.
According to Norton, one in four shoppers indicated experiencing fraud during the holiday season, when scammers take advantage of shoppers to make off with their gifts, credit card information or identity. In order to help shoppers stay safe while making the most of all the great holiday deals, we’re sharing Norton’s six common scams to be aware of in 2022:
Non-Delivery Scam: While online, you find a great gift for someone on your list at a good price. You click “buy,” but you don’t get a tracking number, the package never arrives and the seller disappears into thin air. According to Norton, you’re the subject of what the FBI calls a non-delivery scam.
Avoid becoming a target of this scam by sticking to reputable retailers. Per Norton, if you’re shopping with a new merchant, check for a physical address, a customer service phone number and a professional-looking site before you buy anything. Warning signs of malicious websites include: poor spelling, odd design and very slow loading times. Only buy from secure sites with SSL encryption—i.e., seek URLs starting with HTTPS (the “S” is important, rather than just HTTP) and a lock icon in the corner, per Norton.
If you fall for this type of scam, Norton suggests documenting your unsuccessful attempts to contact the seller, collecting screenshots or other proof of the problems, and requesting that your credit card company reverse the charges due to fraud. Open a PayPal dispute if you paid that way or ask your credit card issuer to deactivate your old card and issue you a new one.
Gift Card Scam: With the gift card scam, a seller asks you to pay with a gift card, which should raise major red flags, because they are frequently used by cybercriminals since they’re an easy way to steal money from you, according to Norton.
To avoid becoming a victim of a gift card scam, be sure to always use a credit card for your online holiday shopping. Norton says that federal law dictates that our liability for fraudulent credit card purchases is capped at $50. and nearly all card issuers offer $0 liability. Norton suggests treating gift cards like cash, and said not to give out gift card numbers/PINs, and to only use them with the issuing merchant.
If you fall prey to a gift card scam, Norton says to notify the gift card issuer immediately. By doing so, they may refund you any money left on the gift card. Each major retailer has their own way to report gift card scams.
Fake Charity Scam: Yep, it’s true—scammers will even stoop to using heartwarming stories during the holiday season to get donations for fake charities. This is especially true, per Norton, due to charitable donations often being used as holiday gifts in recent years.
Avoid the fake charity scam by taking your time to look into charities before donating to them by using resources that track and rate nonprofits.
If you fall for a fake charity scam, Norton suggests reporting it. Per the FBI, contact your state consumer protection division, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and the Federal Trade Commission. Although you won’t recover your money, you may help catch the scammer.
Fake Order Scam: In a Fake order scam, ne’er do wells put a holiday twist on phishing scams by sending an email message informing you of an issue with an item you supposedly ordered, but you don’t recognize the item and you never ordered it, per Norton. The message is likely a phishing email intended to get you to click a suspect link that, in turn, gets you to provide your bank login credentials and/or other personal info to the criminal.
If you are a target of this type of scam, Norton says to act immediately. If you provided login credentials for any site, be sure to change your username and password right away. Then report the scam to the authorities (including any legitimate business the scammers were impersonating), as well as to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Fake Website Scam: In this scam, you attempt to visit the website of your favorite store but misspell the name in your browser. While on what you think is the real site, you make a purchase and the scammer uses this spoofed website to steal your credit card info to use or sell and to likely nab other info like your name/address, per Norton.
According to Norton, the best way to avoid a cloned site is to confirm you’re on the real site when you shop. Also, don’t visit retailers by clicking a link in a “deal” email or on social media, said Norton.
If you’ve fallen victim to a website scam, change your username/password for the real shopping site immediately since it’s been compromised. Also, if you’ve saved your credit card info on the real site, delete it to be careful. Likewise, if you used a credit card to make a purchase on the sham site, report the fraud to your card issuer. They will block the scammer from using your old card number and will issue you a new card, said Norton.
Fake Delivery Scam: Criminals are taking advantage of people doing online holiday shopping by sending false delivery notifications via email or text message. The notifications may look legit (often looking like they’re coming from the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx or UPS) but are far from it. Often, these scammers will mention a delivery issue and provide a link you can “fix the problem,” per Norton. Next, you will likely be asked to enter personal info or a credit card.
Norton suggests that if you ever receive an email or text re: a delivery problem, don’t click the links or a number provided. Look up the company info on your own and contact them directly if you think it’s real. If the message turns out not to be legitimate, let them know about the scam.
If you are a victim of this type of scam, much depends on the info you provided to the scammer, per Norton. In general, follow the steps you would for a fake order scam (change your username and password and report the scam to the authorities), which is also a phishing scam. Also consider keeping an eye on your accounts and monitoring for identity theft.
According to Norton, “the hustle and bustle of the holidays is a gift to cybercriminals,” so knowing how these scams work is crucial to protecting yourself from becoming a victim.