4 Tips to Protecting Yourself from Holiday Shopping Fraud

  • By Sikorsky Credit Union
  • December 6, 2023

The holiday season is here! As you prepare your budget for the additional expenses this month, it’s important to know this season brings an increase in the number of fraudsters and scammers aiming to take advantage of your generous holiday spirit. While it is important to be aware of fraudulent activity all year long, here are 4 helpful tips you should review to protect yourself online and in stores as you shop for the holidays.

#1 – Monitor Account Activity

We get it – holiday shopping is so easy to do online! But, while it’s convenient for you, it’s also the easiest place for fraudsters to obtain your personal financial information. Whether you’re using an Amazon account, purchasing items through Facebook Marketplace or sending payments using money sharing apps, be sure to monitor your account activity.

#2 – Be Aware of Popular Scams

While the following scams may take place all year long, we are sure to see an uptick this holiday season in fraudsters using these methods to scam you out of money or obtain your personal information.
Gift Cards - A scam that is prominent around the holidays is the gift card scam. If someone you don’t know reaches out to you via social media, email, text message, or phone call and asks you to pay them via gift cards – it’s a scam.

Shipping Notifications - If you receive a text message or email containing a link to what appears to be a shipper’s website (such as FedEx or Amazon) regarding the tracking of a package, verify the message and review any order history before clicking any links.

#3 – Purchase Directly Through Reputable Online Stores

One clear sign of an illegitimate business website is not being able to find contact information for the store, whether that be a phone number, email address, return address or physical store location. There should also be no misspellings in the URL for the business or obvious typos in the ad itself. It is important to read several reviews for the seller or business and do your homework before purchasing. 

#4 – Use a Credit Card vs. Debit Card

Although using your debit card may feel like the safer choice so you don’t go over budget with holiday spending, using your credit card may be more beneficial. Plus, if your card happens to be compromised with a purchase, it could be less of a financial burden on you in the short run. When your debit card is compromised and money is withdrawn from your account, that money is gone – at least for a little while. You will have to dispute that charge through your financial institution and it could take some time before the charge is refunded.

Bonus Note: All these scams typically come with some kind of “urgency” behind the requests to pressure you into committing before doing research. Keep an eye out for that type of message and always make sure you’re completely comfortable before committing to something.