Holiday Scams to Avoid

Author: PeopleFinders on June 15th, 2020
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There are many things associated with the holidays: quiet time with family, shopping, social gatherings…and holiday scams.

Voracious scammers recognize this season as a time of cheer and good will. And they’ll use every dirty trick at their disposal to take advantage of that.

But you don’t have to be perpetually afraid that a scammer is lurking behind every corner, trying to steal your money or identity. Just keep some common sense things in mind to avoid holiday scams and enjoy a peaceful season:

-Be careful with your online shopping

-Check out charities

-Make extra cash safely

-Avoid the grandparent scam

-Ignore smishing attempts



Watch For Online Scams

Shoppers once swarmed malls and department stores for their holiday needs. Today, we have a plethora of online shopping resources. While Black Friday still dominates the calendar as one of the busiest shopping days, Cyber Monday is fast becoming king. Criminals have noticed.

Be wary of online holiday scams, like “free” offers. iPads, gift cards, the hottest toys of the season; you name it and someone claims to be giving it away. Sure, you usually need to provide credit card information first, but they promise not to use it. When you see these “opportunities,” the phrase too good to be true may come to mind. Trust that instinct. Stay away from these phony freebies.

Don’t have time to send cards through the mail? No problem, e-cards are fast and easy. Just be careful where you get them. Scammers can create their own e-cards these days, and pack them full of viruses. Go with trusted and reliable e-card websites.

Scam artists know about your favorite shopping websites. They also know how to duplicate them. Watch out for forged sites, and scams like tabnabbing. Avoid these online lookalikes that hope to steal your credit card number. Instead of following a link, enter the complete URL of every site you visit.

On sites like Etsy, eBay and Craiglist, individual makers and sellers have platforms to peddle their wares. But before you purchase goods from an individual, verify the seller. If the site you’re using allows people to leave feedback, read it. And think about running a comprehensive background check on a seller with whom you’re not well-acquainted before issuing payment. Get all the facts you can, and make sure you’re not getting ripped off.

Verify Charities

During the holidays, people tend to be more giving. On Giving Tuesday and throughout the season, we donate to charities, deposit money into buckets held by bell-ringers, and become more likely to dole out spare change. Generosity is a noble trait, but one that is commonly exploited by thieves.

If you give a donation this holiday season, make sure it goes to the right place. Many holiday scams are hidden behind the guise of supposed charitable organizations. Be wary of anyone who calls to ask for money; it could just be a phone scam. Watch out for people who come to your door requesting cash for a good cause.

Want to help? Contact your favorite charity directly. Still in doubt? Check out a charity’s legitimacy with a site like Charity Navigator.

Need Extra Cash?

With the holidays come gift giving, extra cooking and an array of additional expenses. It gets costly. You may even need a second job to cover those extra costs.

How does working from home sound? Probably pretty good. That’s why holiday scams may come in the form of “help-wanted” ads that claim to offer exactly what you want. All you have to do is pay a startup fee or provide personal information first. Do this, and you’re just helping scammers rip you off.

Thousands of reputable companies hire holiday help. Stick with them when applying for part-time positions.

“Help A Family Member”

This kind of scam most often preys on the elderly; that’s why it’s commonly termed the Grandparent Scam.

Imagine this: you get a late-night call from a seldom-seen relative, or perhaps the police. A member of your family is in trouble, and only you can help. It’s going to cost you to get that family member out of their horrific jam. Just wire the money, or send pre-paid gift cards. Don’t ask questions.

Trouble is, it’s a put-on. It’s just a scammer pretending to be a family member or authority figure and demanding payment. It’s another trick to separate you from your money.


It may look like a fake word, but smishing is a real threat. Scammers send victims text messages that seem to be from reputable businesses, perhaps a bank or major department store. They are texting to notify you of a serious problem with your account. You must fix the issue immediately. To start, you’ll need to verify some personal information.

Don’t fall for this scam. You’ll just be sending private details about yourself to criminals. Never respond to these texts. In situations where your account security is at stake, real companies won’t notify you via text message.


Yes, there are a lot of scammers out there. And they’re going to use any opportunity they can to get what they want. But by keeping these safety tips at the front of your mind, you can be sure to avoid holiday scams and have a happy, care-free season.

And remember, while these tricks are very common during the holidays, they’re around all year long. For more online shopping and safety tips, check out the various digital identity articles available on the PeopleFinders blog.

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Categorized in: Scams