It Is The Season For Holiday Scams

A Holiday 2021 Advisory

A SCARS Special Report

Remain Vigilant Against Holiday Scamming Schemes

As we approach the holiday season, we are warning everyone that scammers prefer to steal rather than give during this special time of year.

Shoppers hunting for a good deal should be on the lookout for increasingly aggressive and innovative scams designed by criminals to steal money and personal information. Shoppers everywhere need to stay focused, attentive, and vigilant to scams to enjoy a scam-free holiday season.

When shopping online during the holiday season—or any time of year—always be wary of deals that seem too good to be true, and do your part to avoid becoming a scammer’s next victim.

Charity Scams: 

Charity-related frauds increase during the holidays as individuals seek to donate money to those less fortunate. Criminals use phone calls, email campaigns, and fake websites to solicit on behalf of fraudulent charities. Scammers target people who want to donate to charity, then hoard well-intentioned donations while those most in need never see a dime.

NOTE: Not all charities are 501(c)(3), many are not. To verify the status of all charities visit the state or province where they are incorporated and verify their incorporation as a nonprofit/not-for-profit in good standing (active). Always verify!

For example: SCARS is an incorporated nonprofit based in Florida (Nonprofit Corporation Registration #N20000011978 confirm our status here. Tax ID EIN 85-3761559) This is how you verify real nonprofits regardless of their donation tax status.

Online Shopping Scams:

If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is!

Stay away from unfamiliar sites offering unrealistic discounts on brand-name merchandise. Scammers frequently prey on Black Friday and Cyber Monday bargain hunters by advertising “One-Day Only” promotions from recognized brands. If you’re purchasing from a company for the first time, research the business and check reviews other customers have shared. If little to no information about a vendor exists, shop elsewhere.

Be very VERY CAREFUL of buying on Amazon if Amazon does not fulfill the item. You could buy an item and not have it arrive and not be able to get a refund in time to replace the item.

Also, do not buy from Alibaba or Chinese-based online retailers. It is highly unlikely that you will get any items before Christmas.

Payment Red Flags: Be cautious of sellers and websites which demand payment solely through gift cards. Scammers sometimes encourage shoppers to conduct wire transfers, which allow criminals to quickly receive illicit funds. Using a credit card provides layers of security against fraud and is typically the safest way to conduct online shopping throughout the holidays. Remember that debit cards DO NOT have the same level of security as a credit card!

Additional steps to avoid holiday fraud schemes:

  • Before shopping online, secure all your financial accounts with strong passphrases (passwords made of multiple words) and two-factor authentication. Additionally, it is recommended using different passphrases for each financial account.
  • Check bank and credit card statements often, especially after making online purchases and in the weeks following the holiday season.
  • Never give personal information— such as your date of birth, Social Security number, or billing addresses— to anyone you do not know even if they claim to be from the government.
  • Be suspicious of promotions and giveaways which request your personal information.
  • Prior to donating to any charity, verify that they have a valid Taxpayer Identification (in the U.S. this is called an “EIN”) number by visiting their website or calling the charity directly.

Reporting Scams

SCARS Recommends reporting all online or e-commerce fraud or scams to the Federal Trade Commission (even if you do not live in the United States). Use this unique link provided through the SCARS partnership with the FTC to provide increased visibility and attention to your report:

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Always Report All Scams – Anywhere In The World To:

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U.S. FTC at and SCARS at
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