As cyber sales move closer, holiday shopping scams also increase. For this reason, consumers must be mindful of several holiday scams–including the free gift cards we often see online. 

2021 Holiday Shopping

For background information, Adobe has unveiled its online shopping forecast for the 2021 Holiday season. They evaluate direct consumer transactions online to give a complete perspective of e-commerce in the United States and throughout the world through their Adobe Digital Economy Index.

Adobe predicts that online holiday sales in the United States will reach $207 billion from November 1 to December 31, setting a new high record. The said new record is a 10 percent increase from 2020, which is a big leap following a year in which the pandemic rendered e-commerce a necessary service.

Cyber Week, which runs from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, is estimated to generate $36 billion in online sales, accounting for 17 percent of all holiday shopping.

On the other hand, an AARP survey revealed that 75 percent of consumers in the United States expect their e-commerce purchases from major merchants such as Amazon or Walmart will be comparable to or higher than in the 2020 Christmas season.

With that being stated, holiday shopping scams will likely increase throughout the season.

In relation to this, the Federal Trade Commission reported that there were nearly 58,000 covid-related consumer fraud reports from January 2020 to October 18 this year.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in a statement through CNBC that people should protect their personal information as the country enters sensitive holidays and tax periods.

For this reason, there are ways that consumers might do to prevent holiday shopping scams.

Read Also: Elon Musk Admits New FSD Beta Rule Is to Stop Careless Drivers From Blaming Tesla

4 Holiday Shopping Scams to Avoid

4. Bogus Retailer Websites

According to Social Catfish, an online security site, fraudulent businesses may use phony websites to entice customers with offers and significant discounts on popular products that are out of stock or difficult to obtain elsewhere.

Social Catfish added that a false site’s domain name will have an unnecessary letter or number, and the site may also contain grammatical problems or restricted contact information.

In addition, consumers should Google unknown organizations and read customer reviews, or search for the company name. Aside from this, people should never pay for a product using a wire transfer, money order, or gift card.

3. Gift Card Scams

Last year, Bolster, a technology company that tracks down fake websites, detected more than 32,000 fraudulent websites based on gift cards that were used to defraud customers, per Kare11.

However, they found out that fake websites increased five times this year as compared to the numbers they have detected last year.

Bolster CEO Abhishek Dubey stated that some of these websites appear to be legitimate, but it is difficult for customers to tell which ones are not.

Scammers develop these bogus websites to steal their gift cards.

Dubey recommends double-checking the URL at the top to make sure it is the legitimate website of the company, or just simply typing it in. Additionally, fake websites that claim you’ve won a gift card are another form of a gift card scam.

2. Social Media Cyberattacks

According to the Federal Trade Commission, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube are the go-to sites of cybercriminals for holiday scams.

Moreover, Social Catfish furthered that the companies and influencers frequently offer free product freebies on Instagram over the holidays. Through this, scammers may offer the potential to win a festive surprise, but they add dangerous links in their Instagram posts that collect personal information from their victims.

In relation to this, almost 38 percent of customers indicated they purchased in the past year after clicking on a social media ad. For those who are not familiar with how it works, social media ads might lead consumers to a cloned site of a legal retailer or download harmful malware onto their device, per AARP.

For this reason, consumers should be cautious of social media accounts without a blue checkmark and look for typographical errors as well as those accounts with no other material.

1. Parcel Scams

Scammers might impersonate FedEx or another delivery company and send a text or e-mail including a link to track the item, per Social Catfish. However, by opening the link, fraudsters get access to the consumer’s personal and financial data.

Fraudsters may also send voicemails or post a missing delivery sticker on a customer’s door with a phone number to contact to confirm their details.

In addition to this, nearly a third of Americans have received bogus information regarding a shipping issue from someone claiming to be from USPS, FedEx or UPS, per AARP.

Social Catfish advised against clicking on a link or calling a number on an unexpected delivery notification. Use a confirmed phone number or website to contact the company directly.

Related Article: iPhone Scam: Answering Your iPhone Could Turn Into Bank Hacking, Here’s How to Avoid It