The holiday season is a joyful period for both business owners and customers. Among so many others, Christmas also means gifts, which means shopping for gifts, which means happy customers and thriving businesses.
Shopping gets wild around winter holidays and most of our purchases nowadays are made on the Internet. That’s why there’s another category of people who see holiday times as a great opportunity to make money: online scammers.
There are a lot of Christmas online scams out there. If you encounter any of the following, don’t get fooled by them:
- The gift card email: scammers will send you an email with a receipt for a so called gift card that you don’t recall buying. Once you try to cancel the gift card, you will have to provide your personal info (credit card, etc.), which is what scammers are really after
- The fake charity scam: because Christmas is a giving holiday, we are all more generous and altruistic and we like to contribute to various charity organizations. Cyber criminals know that and try to harness this information as much as possible. They will create fake accounts and websites and urge you to send money. Be careful and do a thorough research of any charity organization you want to put your money into
- The fake puppy. This one’s been working very well for years now because it takes advantage of our weak side, our emotions. It targets pet lovers. Scammers will try to sell you an irresistible puppy and ask you to pay in advance. The result is pretty obvious now, right? Turns out there’s no cute, fluffy puppy, everything is just a cruel Internet scam. Avoid buying a pet online, without actually seeing it first. Also, search for the ad with your puppy and see if you can also find it on other websites. If you do, it is highly possible you were the victim of a fraud
- E-cards. These work by requesting for your personal info in order to be able to open the card, or act as a virus undercover. Don’t open any attachments that have the .exe extension, because that is an execute command and you might be opening a virus instead. Also check for the sender’s details and if they are not familiar or even visible, don’t try to open the card
- Payments that are not common. Whenever you make an online purchase, try to be very careful at the payment method. If you are asked to pay through unusual third-parties, wire transfers or prepaid debit, think twice before going through with it
- The coupon scams. Who doesn’t love freebies or fat discounts? Coupons are very popular especially around holidays, but they oftentimes prove to be just phishing scams. If you have to give away any personal information or your phone number in order to benefit from them, don’t fall for it. You will just get scammed or become a target for abusive marketing calls
- The grandparent scam. This one is also cruel, because it targets the elderly, which are more gullible. They usually receive phone calls from someone who claims to be a friend, grandchild or relative who’s been involved in an accident, arrested, etc. and is in urgent need of some money. Talk to the seniors in your household, teach them about this scam and instruct them not to wire or send any money under any form or do anything until they can completely verify the identity of the person who made the call
- The temporary job. There are a lot of businesses that need extra help for the holidays and scammers know that. If you apply for a job, don’t ever offer your personal information online without being 100% sure that you know what you are doing. If you do apply online, make sure you only do it on the official website of the employer and not by accessing any suspicious, third party links. You should also never pay for anything like equipment or something else.