Seasonal Scams Take Retailers and Consumers by Surprise

( – Each year, criminals prey on unsuspecting businesses and shoppers. While they take advantage of people year-round, scammers are especially active just before and during major holidays. Consumers who arm themselves in advance with knowledge are far less likely to fall for scams. So, watch out for some of these.

  1. Fake Shipping Notifications: Most online shoppers are familiar with retailers who send emails and texts confirming their orders, telling them the order has shipped, alerting them that their order is out for delivery, or notifying them of a completed delivery. However, innovative scammers began impersonating shipping companies, sending fake notifications and telling consumers they only needed to provide bank details to confirm their identities to obtain their delayed packages, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The criminals were stealing personal information, and their promised packages never existed.

Keeping a log of online purchases and expected delivery dates can help shoppers avoid this scam. Most retailers allow customers to track their orders from the time they place them until packages arrive at their doors. Adding tracking details for each purchase to the log gives consumers a bonus. If shoppers have any questions about their deliveries or orders, they should contact the vendors they purchased from directly. Avoid using URL links received via emails or texts.

  1. Fake Online Ads: Many online ads fall into this category, according to Reader’s Digest. Criminals are typically trying to obtain personal details from consumers. Scammers post fake ads for products or services that seem too good to be true, have price points far below market pricing, or use high-pressure sales techniques emphasizing product scarcity or the time-limited nature of the offering. The ads might even take shoppers to websites that look like subsidiaries of brand products.

To avoid falling for a fake ad from a phony retailer or site, seek deals from the actual retailers or their authorized dealers. Additionally, look for secure server transactions where the URL begins with “https:” to safeguard personal information. Avoid paying via direct payment methods like Venmo, Zelle, or CashApp, and pay with a credit card when possible.

  1. Phony Charity Solicitations: During holidays and after natural disasters, the FTC has noted increases in this type of fraudulent activity, preying on people’s desire to help others. Charities are exempt from the national Do Not Call list. However, legitimate charities stop calling people if they ask. Scammers typically use high-pressure techniques to solicit donations and want people to donate immediately using direct payment methods.

If a charity call feels like a high-pressure sales call, hang up. Investigate the charity through Charity Navigator and CharityWatch to decide whether it’s an organization worthy of donations. Give directly to organizations rather than through phone, online, or email solicitation. Don’t open suspicious email charity solicitations because they could contain malware.

Online shopping and home delivery have made life easier year-round. To stay safe, remain aware of potential scams and hazards. The FTC can help consumers remain updated about new scams and ways to prevent becoming victims.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

Copyright 2024,