How to Avoid the Most Common Holiday Scams of 2022

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The festive season is a great time of the year to spend with family and friends, but it can get expensive. One way to avoid spending more than you intended to, is to avoid falling victim to the increase in cybercrime that takes place over the festive season. As a consumer, it is your responsibility to be prepared and knowledgeable about common holiday scams, and a higher level of awareness is certainly needed. When not much can be done to stop the scammers behind the screens, knowledge, and awareness become the most powerful weapons against cybercrime.

The holiday season is a time of year when many scams are perpetrated by criminals, and it’s essential to be hyper-aware of these scams so you can avoid falling prey to them. Here are some of the most common holiday scams and how to avoid them.

Parcel Delivery Scams

With so many people shopping Christmas gifts online and having packages delivered to their homes, scammers are finding new ways to take advantage of unsuspecting victims. Be suspicious of any emails or text messages you receive about your online orders, especially if you didn’t initiate the contact. Many scammers will try to mimic the style of communication used by popular e-commerce companies or parcel delivery companies, such as DHL.

These emails and messages can look like a request for email verification to track a parcel you’ve “ordered”, or a request for your name, address, and phone number, in order to resolve a “delivery failure”. These emails are usually sent with urgency, are received completely out of the blue, contain spelling and grammatical errors, and often include requests for money in return for delivery. If you think an email might be suspicious, don’t click on any links or respond with the information they are requesting.

If you’d like to understand more about these scams and what to watch out for, have a look here.

Online Ticket Scams

The holiday season is a great time to spend time with family and friends, and many people look forward to attending festive events. However, the demand for tickets often outpaces the supply, and people can be tempted to buy tickets from secondary marketplaces or social networks. Unfortunately, this can create the perfect breeding ground for fraud and theft, and the trend for tickets to be electronic rather than tangible has only made the problem worse.

The use of barcodes on tickets has resulted in scammers being able to sell the same ticket on multiple online marketplaces. As a result, the only time the victim would know they’ve been scammed is when they arrive at the event and their tickets do not work. While it seems like a barcode is secure and can’t be easily replicated, the opposite is true when it comes to online tickets with images of the tickets easily being reproduced on multiple different selling platforms.

To avoid these scams, avoid buying tickets from online marketplaces, such as Facebook marketplace or Gumtree. Read the terms of service, such as shipping and return policies and make sure you are able to verify who the seller is. Best practices involve buying tickets from reputable online ticket websites and, better yet, in person from the source if possible. ESET did in-depth research into online ticket scams, which you can read about in this article.

Holiday Package Scams

The holiday season is a great time to travel and find affordable vacation packages. However, it is also a time when scammers are out in full force, trying to take advantage of unsuspecting holiday-goers. One of the most common scams is the fake holiday package scam. 

Fraudsters often pose as reputable service providers, offering affordable holiday accommodation with pictures to back it up. These deals may seem too good to be true, and in most cases, they are. To avoid these scams, be sure to do your research first. Check the reviews and compare prices on multiple sites to ensure the deal you’re receiving is a reputable one.

Fake Charity Scams

Did you know there are scams out there that are posing as charities? It's true. And it's a big problem for people who want to give back over the festive season, as scammers make it hard to tell the difference between a real charity and a fake one. So, what can you do to help protect yourself from these scams? Well, first of all, it's important to know what a fake charity scam looks like.

There are two main types of fake charity scams: Ones that ask for donations in person, like at grocery stores or on the street, and ones that ask for donations online via websites or social media pages. If you get an email from someone claiming to be a charity asking for donations or funds, check out their website before giving away any money. If the website looks suspicious—if it doesn't have any contact information listed, if the website itself doesn't look like it belongs to a registered non-profit or if you can’t find them on social media—don't give away any money!

Lookalike Online Stores

As mentioned previously, online shopping and e-commerce purchases increase dramatically during the festive season. Lookalike online stores are fake online stores that look like a company’s official website but are actually set up by scammers. They could be selling the same products as your favourite brand, or they could be selling counterfeit goods. Either way, their goal is to steal your personal information and money.

How to avoid them: Check the URL of any website you're considering buying from before you do so — the URLs of lookalike online stores will often have one letter or symbol different from the real store that most people wouldn’t notice at all.

So, if you're looking to avoid holiday scams in 2022, keep the above in mind. Something important to always consider is, that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If a deal seems like it's too good for the price, investigate further!

Best practices involve sticking to well-known sites, looking out for red flags like guarantees and upfront payments, guarding your personal information until you are one hundred percent confident that it’s safe to share, and looking out for track records and reviews. You can always try asking for a better deal or negotiate on the price tag—but don't give out personal information unless you're sure that what they're offering is worth risking your identity over (and even then...). It's always better to err on the side of caution, so that you can enjoy a stress free holiday.