Top 10 Holiday Scams

Dec 05, 2023 Holidays, Safety & Security

Our best line of defense is to recognize a scam before it strikes. Learn the most common types of scams to be on the lookout for this holiday season.

A woman sitting on a bed and using a cell phone. There are holiday lights in the background.

The holiday season, thought to be among the most wonderful times of the year, may be just that… for fraudsters, who intend to take full advantage of increased spending.

The best line of defense is to learn to recognize a scam before it strikes. Here are ten to be on the lookout for this holiday season.

Top Holiday Scams

1. Gift Cards

In store, fraudsters will scratch activation codes off the back of gift cards, get the card information, and then cover it back up for someone else to purchase. Once the card is bought and loaded with money, fraudsters are able to spend the contents of the card remotely.

Keep your gift cards safe by purchasing them in store and ensure they haven’t been tampered with. If you’re purchasing e-gift cards, it’s best to do so directly from the retailer or a reputable site.

2. Phony Websites

Links or emails with amazing specials may reroute you to fake websites. When opening unknown emails, be wary and look for red flags such as grammatical errors. Instead of clicking links, access the website directly from its domain or a search engine.

3. Avoid “Too Good To Be True” Offers

Avoid offers for free items that surface on social media, especially if you’re asked to fill out a survey or join a fan club.

Remember: never share personal information with untrusted sites. This information may be used for identity theft.

4. Package Theft

People will take items right off your front porch. Having eyes on your porch is now easier than ever with different home security options. Receive notifications when there’s movement at your front door with real-time video and audio features.

Other ways to avoid theft is to require a signature upon delivery or have the package held at the nearest pickup location.

5. Site Overload

It’s common for websites to be overloaded with traffic due to holiday sales, which makes it easy for fraudsters to expose system vulnerabilities and attack the site – sometimes going undetected. Do not trust sites that crash.

6. Malware E-Cards

Exercise care when you send or receive an e-card. While they’re a convenient, inexpensive, and fun way to spread holiday joy, it could be malware in disguise. Before clicking on any link in an email, do your due diligence – verify it’s a reputable e-card company and double-check the name and URL for misspellings.

Once you click on the link scammers can cause chaos by stealing your identity, scamming your friends, annoying you with pop-up ads, and even helping themselves to your cash.

7. Fake Charities

The holidays are the busiest time of year for charitable organizations as people are a bit more generous – something fraudsters are happy to capitalize on. Avoid impromptu donations to unfamiliar charities and never donate money by gift card, cryptocurrency, or wire transfer.

Instead, stick with well-known charities or ones you’ve successfully donated to in the past. You can also use websites like Charity Navigator or the IRS tax-exempt organization search to verify the legitimacy of an organization.

8. Pickpockets

Make sure to secure your purse, wallet, shopping bags, and other valuables while out and about. Thieves will take advantage of crowded places to steal your personal belongings without detection.

9. Seasonal Online Employment

Seasonal workers are very much in demand to help meet the increased foot traffic caused by the holidays. But be wary of employment scams aimed at stealing money and personal information – for example, a fabricated work-from-home opportunity could trick you into sharing confidential information, such as your Social Security number, causing you to become a victim of identity theft.

10. Wi-Fi Replica

Be cautious when using a public Wi-Fi connection appearing to be offered by a business, since it might allow fraudsters to steal data such as payment information.

Never use public Wi-Fi to access personal accounts and always make sure you’re on a secured network.


Scammers are getting more and more creative in their tactics in order to steal your identity and money – make sure you’re aware of these common scams to avoid becoming a victim.

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Life Guidance for:

Fraud Protection

You work hard for your money. We want to help protect it by sharing tips to help recognize scams, deter fraudsters, and take appropriate action if you fall victim.

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