Scammers these tricks to steal your money or identity during the holidays.

3 minute read

One thing you can count on every holiday season is bombardment by online shopping ads, emails and requests for charitable donations. But here’s one more thing you can expect: Holiday scammers targeting your money, packages or personal information to use for identity theft purposes.

Every holiday season, thousands of people fall for holiday scams, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In 2020, non-delivery scams throughout the year cost American consumers more than $265 million. Credit card fraud caused another $129 million in losses. So, of course, scammers love to take advantage of holiday scamming opportunities.

But that doesn’t mean you have to become a holiday scammer’s next victim.

1. Package delivery scams

Delivery scams abound over the holidays, when online shoppers waiting on packages unwittingly click on “phishing” links in emails posing as notices from delivery companies, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Scam delivery messages contain a “tracking link” or inform you that the shipper is having trouble delivering your package.

But when you click on the link, it takes you to a form asking for sensitive, personally identifiable information that can be used to steal your identity. Or you could end up on a site that downloads malware to your computer or other devices.

With another delivery scam, the scammers leave a notice on your door that there are problems with your delivery and you must call a number to reschedule. However, the only thing these scammers are interested in is your personal information, which they will ask for when you call about a new delivery time.

“If you receive a missed delivery notice, examine the form carefully to make sure it is authentic and only then follow their instructions,” says the BBB.

Find out: Don’t Fall for These Sneaky Package Delivery Scams

2. Phishing emails

If you receive an email offering holiday shopping deals or asking for charitable donations, don’t click on any links or attachments. The message could be from a scammer trying to get you to provide your name, password or bank or credit card number.

By clicking on a link or attachment, you could also unwittingly download malware – malicious software designed to gain access to personal financial, health care and other data – to your device.

Find out: 5 Ways to Avoid Scammers Soliciting Donatations for a Tragedy or Natural Disaster

3. Malware hiding in holiday e-cards

It might make you happy to see “You’ve received an e-card!” while sipping your cocoa and perusing morning emails or text messages. But your holiday happiness could turn to regret if that cheerful e-card was simply a ruse to get you to click and open a link that downloaded malware to your device.

On the other hand, what if the e-card really is from someone you know, wishing you holiday cheer? Security software company Norton recommends only opening e-cards from reputable companies you recognize, such as Hallmark, American Greetings, Blue Mountain and Jacquie Lawson.

If you don’t recognize the name of the e-card company, perform an online search, also typing the word “scam” in your search terms. Verify that the URL matches the name of the legitimate company. If it doesn’t, that’s one holiday greeting you don’t need.

Find out: 7 Signs Your Online Soul Mate May Be Out to Scam You

4. Charity scams

You may feel more charitable during the holiday season, and scammers are always ready to take advantage of your generosity, according to the Federal Communications Division (FCC). When scammers call, they may use “spoofing” technology so the name and phone number of a reputable charity shows up on your caller ID. Some even create fake charities to get donations or get you to hand over personal information they can use to steal your identity.

“Verify all phone numbers for charities,” advises the FCC. “If you need to contact a charity by phone or using text-to-donate, check the charity’s official website to see if the number you have is legitimate.”

The FCC recommends donating only to trusted, well-known charities and verifying that the charity is legitimate through its official website. Look up the charity at Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.

Don’t let a scammer dampen your holiday spirit by tricking you into providing personal information that could be used for identification purposes or downloading malware to your device. Use extra caution this holiday season so you can spend your time on festivities rather than fixing your stolen identity or disputing fraudulent charges.

Find out: 7 Red Flags That Paid Survey May Be a Scam

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC