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Scams to Look Out For During the Holidays

‘Tis the season to be joyful and merry, and the last thing you want to deal with is scammers and spammers. While these groups are always out there, they turn their annoying behaviors up during the holidays to take advantage of all the hustle and bustle. 

Here’s a quick overview of what to look out for during the holidays. 

Gift cards and Giveaways

While you’re busy fulfilling Christmas lists and preparing for the holidays, scammers are too, in fact, they are ramping up their efforts. One of the easier ways for them to trick you is through fake gift card sales, sometimes using the guise of a known contact — or dangling a free prize in exchange for sharing their credit card information. If you receive an email from your friend asking you to buy them a gift card, send them a quick text to confirm they really sent the request. And if a giveaway looks too good to be true, it just may be fraudulent.


Attackers unfortunately don’t mind pulling on your heartstrings when trying to pull on your purse strings. They will easily set up fake charity addresses and emails, asking for money, and hurting both those who fall prey to the scams and the charities that would have benefited from the giving. Whether it’s a supposed charity tied to a subject in the news, or an organization with a familiar name, be on the lookout for anyone asking you to contact them on their personal email or send money to them directly.

Demographic Targeting

Some of the most pernicious scams are the most specifically targeted to you. These scams might seem more personal because they include some specific element of your life or identity. Whether it’s spoofing communications from local PTA board members or sending fraudulent emails targeted at specific age groups, keep your eyes open for identity-based malicious emails this holiday season.

Subscription Renewals  

As we approach the end of the year, subscription renewal scams can spike. A particularly unwelcome version of these emails spoof antivirus services, which lure victims with the promise of improved security. While some scammers can make their message look very convincing, always be sure to check the sender’s email. If it looks off, it may be fraudulent.

While the range of malicious activities might seem dizzying, the good news is that there are programs and applications that help block these and countless other malicious and unwanted campaigns. Consider following these golden rules to avoid becoming a victim of a holiday scam:

  1. Slow it down. Scams are often designed to create a sense of urgency. Take time to ask questions and think it through.
  2. Spot check. Do your research to double-check the details you are getting. Does what they’re telling you make sense?
  3. Stop! Don’t send it. No reputable person or agency will ever demand payment or your personal information on the spot.

If you ever have any hesitations, please reach out to your local community banker and we’d be happy to help.