With emotions running high, time running out to get that last needed gift, and a returned focus on family and what’s truly important, scammers are taking advantage at every turn.

Every year – and this year in particular as people are looking to the holiday season to bring back some resemblance of normalcy – cybercriminals find a myriad of ways to use holiday-themed scams and use social engineering to fool victims out of credit card information and even hard-earned money. And with COVID putting a damper on in-person shopping, the massive reliance on online shopping makes the bad guy’s job even easier.

Some of the common scams to be mindful of include:

  • Social Media Deals – that convenient ad on your favorite social media site can take you to what appears to be a legitimate website (that you’ve never heard of) offering the perfect gift for someone you care about at an unheard of price. And once they have your credit card details, they can be used or sold within minutes. Remember, even criminals can pay to have ads posted…
  • Charity Scams – A simple pulling of the heart strings with an email, social media post, etc. about how you can help is designed to take advantage of your giving spirit. Be sure any charity asking for your money is legitimate before giving.
  • Fake Shipping Notifications – sent via email or text, the simple message that delivery is being delayed and may not make it by Christmas is all that’s needed to get the potential victim invested enough to need to find out more, click links, provide credentials, etc. Any legitimate shipping notification will provide some details you already known (e.g., the company shipping the item, your address, etc.).

There are many more – free gift cards, payment declines, look-alike websites, etc. What’s needed is to be mindful that not everything one reads, is sent via email, is received via text, etc. is real; a modicum of suspicion and scrutiny is needed, even while staying in the holiday spirit.