As 2023 comes to an end, it brings along with it a time many people look forward to: the holiday season. With this time of year coming around, however, we see an increasing amount of holiday related scams. Because of this, we want to review common end-of-year scams and how to guard against them. The FBI states that one of the most common scams is non-delivery crimes. Phishing emails with holiday themes will also increase during this time of year. You may even come across scams on social media! Let’s look together at these scams and learn how to protect ourselves from them.

End of Year Scams

Non-delivery Scams

The first scam we will discuss is a non-delivery scam. In a non-delivery scam, a customer pays for items or services found online, but those items or services are never received. Unfortunately, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center’s (IC3) 2021 report, non-payment or non-delivery scams cost people more than $337 million. To read more about non-payment scams, view the FBI’s statements here. To avoid non-delivery scams, adhere to the following tips:

  • Be sure to do your own research when purchasing from a company for the first time and give special attention to reviews.
  • Be wary of sellers who respond to questions by saying that they are unavailable due to business, family emergency, or similar reasons.
  • Never wire money directly to a seller.
  • The Federal Trade Commission states that only scammers will insist you pay them with a gift card and give them the numbers off the back of the card. No real business or government agency will ever tell you to buy a gift card to pay them. If paying with a gift card of your own volition, always keep a copy of your gift card and store receipt.

Phishing Emails

In addition to non-delivery scams, we will likely see a rise in holiday related email scams. You may see emails surface that are themed around coupon discounts or order confirmations. To avoid these scams, keep an eye out for the following things:

  • Be wary of emails from senders not affiliated with the brand it is claiming to be from.
  • Don’t click links in emails from that are asking you to take some action.
  • If you have an account with the vendor, use a previous known good link or bookmark to access your account and not the one in the email.
  • Be aware when emails are trying to evoke an emotional response and take a moment to think about if the request in the email makes sense.

Social Media Scams

Social media scams can be especially effective because they take advantage of something that most of us utilize. You may come across holiday themed promotions or contests on social media that offer gift cards or vouchers simply in exchange for completing an online survey. Usually, these surveys are not legitimate. Rather, they are a way of capturing your personal information. To avoid these types of scams, resist the urge to complete forms that ask for personal information, even if that information may appear harmless! For example, you may come across quizzes that will match you with a movie character or celebrity. Even these types of quizzes may request personal information such as your favorite color, which may be a security question on some of your accounts.

As the end of the year rolls around, keep an eye out for these three kinds of scams. If you follow the tips outlined in this article, you’ll be on a great track to protect yourself. Help us in spreading these tips to your families, friends, and colleagues. Phishing testing is the best way to get used to responding and reporting phishing scams in the most ideal way. We highly recommend this testing for all companies. For more information, please view our services here:

Written by: Shelby Dacko