The season of giving and gifting is here and we are all excited to make that perfect purchase for someone in our lives. In 2018, there were over 65,000 victims reported in the United States totally $184 million in losses. These days, scammers are very clever with their tricks. Holiday crooks can spoil your celebrations when they steal your personal information. Seasonal deals are what we long for, but if they seem too good to be true, they probably are.

The six top holiday scams

  1. Charity Scams: If a website wants donations in cash or gift cards, don’t do it! Charity scams pop up around the holidays. Scammers can trick you into paying them by thanking you for a donation you never made. They also may look legitimate by their name, but always research them first and find out where they money is going or who it is helping.
  2. Delivery scams: Scammers send out phishing emails this time of year disguised as UPS, FedEx or the USPS. These sneaky scammers use fake links leading to phony pages asking for personal information or to sites infested with malware.
  3. Travel scams: Going home for the holidays carries risks that look too good to be true. People are easily lured by advertisements for booking and travel deals.
  4. Holiday job scams: You may want to make extra money this holiday season but be wary of fake employers looking to steal your money or identity. Red flags to look out for are employers that ask for a payment upfront for job supplies, an application or training fess. Do not fall for job offers that do not require an interview or pay big money for small, simple tasks.
  5. Holiday pop-up shop scams: Pop-up shops that only seem to be around during the holidays are the ones to avoid. These shops most likely do not have a headquarters, do not have a refund policy, and are just scammers looking to make quick cash and run.
  6. Fake social media ad scams: Watch out for ads on Instagram or Facebook claiming to support charities, offer free trials, engage in poor customer service or sell counterfeit merchandise. Also, always read reviews!

What you can do

  • Always request a tracking number for items purchased online so you can make sure they have been shipped and follow the delivery process;
  • Be wary of sellers who post an auction or advertisements in the United States but state they are out of the country for an emergency;
  • Avoid sellers who post an auction or advertisement under one name but ask the payment to be sent to someone else;
  • Consider cancelling your purchase if a seller requests funds be wired directly to them;
  • Verify the legitimacy of a buyer or seller before moving forward with a purchase; and
  • Be suspect of any credit card purchases where the address of the cardholder does not match the shipping address.

If you or a loved one are a victim of fraud and need assistance, you can visit the Texas Crime Victim Legal Assistance Network.

Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves the millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at www.lonestarlegal.org.

Media contact: Clarissa Ayala, cayala@lonestarlegal.org.