Enjoy the Holiday Festivities by Avoiding These Common Scams

Common Holiday Scams

As we enter the holiday season, we look forward to spending time with those close to us, delivering gifts and giving back to those in need. While we may be distracted by the glittering lights and the holiday sales, criminals are looking to benefit from your generosity. They use a variety of scams to steal your money, information and holiday joy.

So, to make your holidays a little less stressful, we are sharing some common scams you might encounter during the Christmas season and beyond.

Charity Scams

It may seem wrong to us to impersonate a charity in need, however, scammers do just that to steal your generous donations. This is the most common holiday scam.

If you want to support a charity organization, it is important to be aware of where and how you are donating. Here are some tips for giving safely this holiday season.

  • Ask for details on the organization, such as the full organization name, address, registration information, how the donation is spent, etc.
  • Research the charity. You can see if a charity is registered on the CRA website. You can also check sites like Canada Helps or Charity Intelligence
  • Take your time to think it over and even do your research
  • If you are unsure, don’t feel guilty or be afraid to hang up the phone or delete that email
  • Keep a record of your donations

Delivery Scams

As you order gifts for loved ones, you may be expecting delivery notifications. You may also be too busy and wrapped up in the holiday festivities to notice an unexpected delivery notification. Scammers are aware of this increase in online shopping, which is why they send phishing emails and texts that appear to be from retailers, couriers or Canada Post.

These links and attachments in their messages may lead to login pages taking your personal information or infecting your devices with malware. They may also try to trick people into paying new shipping fees.

Some signs of a delivery scam include:

  • Unexpected and urgent requests for money in return for delivering a package
  • Requesting personal and/or financial information
  • Links to misspelled or altered website addresses
  • Spelling and grammatical errors or excessive use of capitalization and exclamation points
  • Lack of online security protocols for sensitive activities

Free Gift Card Scams

While it may be exciting to see that you are receiving a free gift card, it may not be real. Scammers send phishing emails requesting your personal information in exchange for free gift cards. They may also use pop-up ads or text messages with links saying you are a randomly selected winner.

  • If it is an unsolicited email or text, do not open it and mark it as spam
  • Do not click on any links
Gift Card Scams

Online Shopping Safety Tips

And as you get to some last-minute Christmas shopping or you are looking to take advantage of Boxing Day sales, here are some tips for safely shopping online.

  • Create complex passwords for your electronic devices and accounts
  • Change passwords frequently
  • Use reputable websites
  • Use sites that only accept secure payment methods – never mail cash or a cheque
  • Ensure someone is home or let a neighbour know when a delivery is expected

Wise Owls Senior Fraud Prevention Program

During the holiday season, take a moment to think about the safety of the seniors in your life and their vulnerability to scammers. Unfortunately, seniors are often the targets of criminals as they have more available finances, they can be very trusting, they have more free time to be contacted by scammers, and they may not be as tech-savvy.

The Wise Owls program is offered through a partnership with the RCMP and the Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association. It is dedicated to providing fraud awareness education for seniors and the general population.

The program gives an overview of many common scams and how to recognize them. They also gain the tools to know who to talk to, how to report it and where to go for more information. Seniors will come away with the tools required to prevent scams.

Members of the Alberta Provincial Rural Crime Watch Association can bring the Wise Owls program to your community free of charge.

Find an APRCWA Chapter Near You

December 05, 2022