Don't Be a Victim This Christmas: How to Avoid the Most Common Scams

August 14th · 9 min read

Guardio Research Team
Guardio Research Team

The Christmas season is a time of joy and happiness, but it can also be when cybercriminals try to steal your money or personal information. The numbers of people losing money to scammers are staggering, with London police authorities stating that £10 million in losses is typical. In Australia it's been reported by the Commonwealth Bank survey how consumers lost $11 billion throughout the 2017 Christmas holiday season and this has remained fairly constant over two years already!

Fake Shopping Website Scams

Although the internet provides a wealth of useful applications, they aren’t all what they appear to be. Websites established for various illicit motives compete with hundreds of reputable websites for visitors. These sites attempt everything from identity theft to credit card fraud, among other crimes.

Scam websites target various audiences, from disseminating false information to making extravagant rewards promises in exchange for private or financial data. The ultimate aim is nearly always the same: to acquire personal or financial information. These sites systematically look for and attract people.

How to Avoid:

Take precautions, and be cautious while surfing the web to avoid fake websites.

Here are some tactics for avoiding these scams: ● Use the Guardio extension, which is available for free on all major browsers, to protect yourself online. Guardio will warn you if you're about to visit a site with a bad reputation. The Guardio browser extension uses a database of over 26 million websites to identify and block phishing attempts, malware, and other online threats in real time.

● Never pay by direct bank transfer. If you send cash to a bank account and it is a scam, you will not get your money back. Paying with a credit card protects against fraud if something goes wrong.

● Always secure your internet connection before giving out information on the web to ensure you do not get scammed. There are only two short tests you need to take to do this.

● Check the website's URL for any spelling or grammar mistakes. The secure URL should start with "HTTPS" rather than "HTTP." When you see the letter "s" in "HTTPS," your communications and data are safe while they travel from your browser to the site's server. This lets you know that all of your messages and data are secure while they transit from your browser to the site's server.

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Package Delivery Scams

When you buy something online, and it gets shipped to your house, it's one of the best feelings. But be careful of two scams that use the shipping function in online buying.

Fake phishing emails: These emails pretend to be from a shipping company, often using their logo, with a link to click for tracking or to fix a “delivery delay.” Still, it’s a link to a malicious site that may do a drive-by download of malware onto your computer.

Fake missed delivery tag: This scam involves putting a fake missed delivery tag on your door with a phone number to call, which is designed to get you to hand over personal information to the scammer.

How to Avoid:

● Track all incoming packages. After you place an order, keep track of the shipment's tracking number. That way, if you get any texts, emails, or phone calls about the delivery that seem strange, you can check to see if they are real or not.

● Never click on links in emails. One of the best ways to avoid phishing scams is to never click on any links in an email, no matter how legitimate they look. If you're worried about a package or delivery, go directly to the company's website and type in the tracking number yourself.

● Never share personal information. Do not give out personal information if you get a call or text about a missed delivery. The only time you should ever give out your personal information is when you initiate the contact yourself.

Social Media Gift Exchange

The holiday gift exchange has grown in popularity. People now exchange gifts with their friends from work, book groups, and online friends. However, be careful when you receive invitations to participate in a gift exchange on social media from people you don't know. Often, these invitations are scams that try to get you to contribute goods and send the invitation to your friends.

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How to Avoid:

● Don't buy Christmas puppies online. If you want to adopt a Christmas puppy, go to your local animal shelter or rescue organization. When looking to adopt a puppy, be sure to visit the animal in person and meet the breeder before giving them any money.

● Do a reverse image search on the puppy picture to see if it's been used on other websites or sourced from a stock photo site.

Gift Card Scams

Gift cards are not meant to be used as payment tools and should not be regarded as such. On the other hand, scammers adore them since they are easy to come by and purchase and lack many consumer protections that different payment methods provide. They're more like cash because once you spend the money on your card, it’s gone. This quality is particularly appealing to frauds because it makes it easier for them to steal your money.

Around Christmas time, some people may try to scam you by pretending to be someone else to get money from you. They might try to scare or intimidate you into doing something right away so that you don't have time to think or contact someone you can trust. The following are some examples of popular gift card scam tactics:

● Some people may call and say they are from the government. They may try to get you to pay taxes or a penalty, but this is a scam. Do not give them any money.

● Some people might call you and say they are from Apple or Microsoft. They might tell you that your computer is not working right. But this is a lie.

● Some people on dating websites try to scam others by asking for money. They might promise to give you something in return, like gift cards, but they will never follow through. Be careful and don't trust anyone who asks for money online.

● A scammer might try to scare you into paying your bill right away. But don't worry—your utility provider would never do this. This is just a way to try to intimidate you.

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Guardio is a Chrome extension that monitors suspicious activity and blocks hackers from stealing your data.

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Fake Charity Scams

With Christmas being a time for giving, scammers will try to take advantage by setting up fake charities. They might contact you by phone, email, or social media and ask for a donation. They might even come to your door.

Some scammers use emotions to try to get money from you. For example, they may say that they can help sick children. People collecting money for a charity may also come to your house or talk to you on the street. Another way scammers might try to get your money is by creating a fake website that looks like an actual charity website. Or they might send you an email asking for a donation.

How to Avoid:

● Never give money to someone who asks for it without doing your research first. This includes people you meet in person, online, or over the phone.

● Verify that the charity is legitimate by checking out their website or contacting them directly. Do not click on any links in an email that you think might be from a scammer.

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Guardio is a Chrome extension that monitors suspicious activity and blocks hackers from stealing your data.

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Holiday Pop-Up Shops

Holiday pop-up shops are a great way to find unique gifts while supporting small businesses, but be wary of fake stores set up by scammers. These shops are often located in high-traffic areas, like malls, and sell items at deep discounts. They may even have a website set up that looks legitimate. But, if you buy something from one of these shops, you may never get your item or end up with a fake one.

How to Avoid:

● Do your research before you buy anything from a pop-up holiday shop. Check if they have a website or social media pages and read reviews. If you can't find any information about the store, it's probably best to avoid it.

● Pay with a credit card so you can dispute the charges if you don't receive your item or it's not as described.

● If the price is too attractive, it might be too good to be true.

● Do not give your personal information to anyone who asks for it, like your credit card or Social Security number.

● Do not agree to any deal with someone you don't know who wants payment in advance via money order, wire transfer, foreign currency transfer, pre-loaded card, or electronic currency. Getting your money back will be impossible if you do this.

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Guardio is a Chrome extension that monitors suspicious activity and blocks hackers from stealing your data.

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Santa App Scams

With Christmas just around the corner, scammers are already trying to take advantage of excited children and their parents with fake Santa apps. Some apps may look like they're from a legitimate company, but they're designed to steal your personal information. After you've joined, the scammer may obtain access to your information and your child's.

How to Avoid:

● Only download apps from official app stores, like the App Store or Google Play.

● Before you download an app, read the reviews and check the developer.

● Make sure the app is from a reputable source.

● Check the app's permissions before you install it. If an app asks for more permissions than it needs, be wary.

● Never give an app access to your location, contacts, or microphone without understanding why it needs that information.

● Look for the privacy policy. All apps should have a privacy policy that tells you what information they collect and how it will be used. If an app doesn't have a privacy policy, be very suspicious.

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Guardio is a Chrome extension that monitors suspicious activity and blocks hackers from stealing your data.

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Misleading Holiday Jobs

With many people out of work or working reduced hours because of the pandemic, scammers are offering fake jobs that seem like a great way to make some extra money for the holidays. They might post these jobs on social media, job boards, or classified ads. The positions may include package delivery, secret shopping, or customer service. But be careful! When you apply, you may be asked to pay a fee or give your personal information to the scammer.

How to Avoid:

● Never pay a fee to get a job. A legitimate company will not ask you to do this.

● Do not give your personal information to someone you don't know. This includes your Social Security number, bank account information, or date of birth.

● Research the company. Look for reviews or complaints online. Check if they have a website.

Don't let scammers take advantage of you and your hard-earned money this Christmas by sifting through the chaos. Let Guardio Browser Extension protect you from Christmas scams. Download it for free, and be sure to shop this holiday season safely! Happy holidays!

Run a free security scan in a few clicks

Guardio is a Chrome extension that monitors suspicious activity and blocks hackers from stealing your data.

Verified by Google Chrome.

Instant Results.

4.6/5 based on 1,000+ Trustpilot reviews

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