Holiday Shopping Scams to Avoid This Holiday Season

You’ve likely seen stories in the news about “porch pirates,” or the thieves that go about swiping deliveries off of front porches for their own gain. And while this type of theft is always more prevalent during the holiday season, there are other and potentially more damaging crimes that you need to be on the lookout for. We’ll take a look at some of them in this post:

Popular Scams to Be on the Watch For

While porch pirates are a threat during the holiday season, they’re easy to catch if you’re among the many homes that are equipped with a video doorbell. Other scams that we’ll detail below, however, aren’t as simple to mitigate. Worse yet, they could have long-term consequences on your financial situation and credit score. Here’s a look:

  • Empty gift cards: This is a new trend, and there’s about a 20 percent chance you’ve been a victim of it already. It’s the empty gift card scam, and it involves thieves getting the account number and PIN of gift cards that sit on racks so they can swipe the funds on them as they are activated. This info is usually covered in sticky tape, which is removed and replaced by the thieves. To avoid being victimized, look closely to make sure this sticky tape hasn’t been manipulated.
  • Fake charities: If you’re a fan of “Seinfeld,” then surely you recall the episode where George gifted the office with holiday donations to the fake “Human Fund.” But Seinfeld is fictional – the fact is that charitable scams are much more prevalent this time of year when people are more apt to give. Bottom line: Make sure you do your homework on the charity that’s targeting you for money. According to an AARP survey, more than half of Americans that did research on a charity wound up not making a donation to it. You know what they say: “Knowledge is power.”
  • Delivery cyberattacks: If you get an odd email from FedEx, UPS or another delivery service, beware. There’s a good chance that it’s a hacker trying to swipe some personal information from you. If you ever receive a strange email from any delivery service about a package that’s coming your way, the best thing to do is log into the site where you purchased it to track the shipment. You don’t want to click on any links or provide any personal information that could come back to haunt you.
  • SMiShing: There are cyberattacks, and then there are text messaging scams. SMiShing falls among the latter. The most common type of SMiShing attack is receiving a text stating that your debit card has been locked for suspicious activity, with an ask for you to supply the PIN to unlock the card. Don’t fall for this trick, which tries to scare you into fast action. Instead, contact your financial institution to report it.
  • Phony credit card offers: Zero APR! Amazing rewards! A terrific sign-up bonus! No annual fee! If a credit card offer you receive in the mail appears too good to be true, that’s because it probably is. Credit card scammers will pull out all the stops this time of year in an effort to get you to apply for them. But what they’re really looking for is your social security number that you have to provide when applying for any type of line of credit. Once they get that, then they can steal your identity. Be careful about falling for any of these too good to be true offers this holiday season.