The Most Popular Holiday Scam Isn’t New, but It’s Effective

The Most Popular Holiday Scam Isn’t New, but It’s Effective


Holiday shopping is in full swing. Would-be thieves are working overtime this year, too. For one thing, immense consumer demand is straining supply lines. At the same time, production bottlenecks are slowing the manufacturing of many electronics. This situation has created a perfect storm for scammers to steal from unsuspecting victims.

The Federal Trade Commission recently released a report that shows just how popular old-school phishing scams are. From January 1 through October 15 of this year, nearly 60,000 people have fallen victim to online shopping scams. Over 19,000 of these scams started with victims falling for phishing emails.

Phishing Scams

A phishing scam is a straightforward attempt to steal a user’s password or credit card information. Most victims of these scams come across them in the form of fraudulent emails. The emails can be hard to detect, but they usually promise huge holiday savings or exclusive access to hard-to-find goods.

A new variant of these scams is also making the rounds. In this version, scammers pose as Amazon or a similar online retailer and claim that they’ve found a problem with your recent order. If you’re tired or stressed already, you might not think through what you’re reading, and you could accidentally give the scammers your order number and personal information under the guise of verifying your purchase.

The next thing you know, you could be facing down fraud alerts on your credit card. This is why you should always stay vigilant when you’re checking your emails and shopping online!

Fake Sites

Some scam emails direct would-be victims to fake versions of existing sites. You might think the link you followed to a restock of PlayStation 5 consoles has placed you on Best Buy’s website, but it could be an elaborate scam. Check the URL and make sure you’re really on Best Buy’s site. If the URL seems unusually long or doesn’t even have the site’s name in it, you could be looking at a fake.

Some scams are even more direct than phishing attempts. Some online thieves charge you for a purchase they don’t intend to send out. Sketchy online sites and unscrupulous eBay and Amazon sellers might choose to keep your payment without sending the item for which you paid.

If you’re the victim of an online scam, contact law enforcement and your bank right away. The sooner you seek help, the better your chances of reversing the damage before it becomes permanent.