Holiday Scams to Avoid This Season

6 min readDec 7, 2022


The holiday season is always highly anticipated and full of travel, outdoor recreation, shopping, and charitable giving. However, scammers take advantage of the bustling activities of the period to defraud over-excited and unsuspecting individuals as they shop online, book holiday travels, or make payments for transactions.

According to the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc (NIBSS), fraudsters attempted 46,126 scam attacks in the first nine months of 2020, and 41,979 were successful — a 91% success rate. NIBBS also revealed that fraudulent activities have resulted in losses to the tune of $42 billion and state that approximately 39% of these scams are perpetrated by external parties while 37% are done by internal parties. Global statistics also reveal that digital shopping scams are 62% higher in December than in any other month.

Holiday Scams to Watch Out for

Here are the most common holiday scams that occur during the holidays and how you can avoid them.

Gift Card Scams

Gift cards make great gifts. However, be careful when you receive requests to pay for items using gift cards because it may very well be a scam. Scammers love gift cards because, like cash, they are impossible to trace once used to make payments and are easy to find and buy. Scammers will often call and request for your gift card’s number and PIN to access the funds in it.

How to avoid it:

  • Note that no business or government agency will insist you pay them with a gift card. For the few businesses that may receive payments via gift cards, such information would be clearly stated on their website policies and terms of services
  • Do not give out your gift card number and PIN to unknown and strange people who request for them online
  • Never respond to unsolicited email or text messages offering you a gift card, as your device could become infected by a virus or malware
  • Watch out for and report fraudulent emails sent by criminals to look and sound like they come from banks and reputable organizations
Photo by Nerthuz on istockphoto

Travel Scams

The holidays come with a hike in the number of travels around the globe, as people travel to be with their relatives or to resorts to have a good time. This period is great for car rental companies, hotels and airlines. However, it is also a time bad actors use to perform travel scams as people pay for their hotels and travel experiences online.

How to avoid it:

  • Be wary of travel sites and emails that offer outrageous and unbelievable travel deals, as they are most likely scams
  • Watch out for scammers that create duplicates of popular travel websites
  • Refrain from paying travel fees with gift cards or cryptocurrencies. Scammers use these methods because payments are difficult to trace, making it almost impossible to get your money back once you have paid
Photo by careinsurance

Shipping Scams

Many shipping scams start with a call, email, or text stating that an unexpected package is being delivered to you. Though this package could be an anonymous gift from a loved one, it could also be a scam.

Scammers attach harmful links to the messages they send, and prompt you to click those links and give out your personal information or download malware into your device.

How to avoid it:

  • When you receive such messages, confirm that the sender’s details are from a legitimate retailer from whom you’re expecting a package
  • Avoid clicking on suspicious links as they lead to malware-infected websites that request for your personal and bank information
  • Be careful with messages that contain grammatical or spelling errors
Photo by RoseBox رز باکس on Unsplash

Online Shopping Scams

Scammers pretend to be legitimate online sellers by setting up fake websites or publishing counterfeit products online. They take advantage of the anonymity of the internet to rip off unsuspecting buyers.

How to avoid it:

  • Be careful and vigilant when transacting with sellers that offer goods at very low prices that seem too good to be true, as it may be a scam store
  • Buy directly from the retailer’s official website or from their verified vendors or partners
  • Be wary of sellers that offer impossibly low prices for goods and services, or that offer very high discounts
Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash

Charity Scams

These are the most common holiday scams, as people across the globe give to non-profits and institutions that support the needy and less privileged. Scammers take advantage of the high rate of holiday donations and generosity to pose as these organizations and gain access to the donations.

How to avoid it:

  • Research the organization before making any donation
  • Pay attention to the website address, and note that most legitimate charities use .org domains
  • Avoid making donations through back-door and less direct channels, like cash, gift cards, or cryptocurrencies
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Payment Scams

A common behavior of online scammers is that they prefer payment methods that don’t give away their identities, make it impossible to offer refunds, and are difficult to trace. So when someone doesn’t allow you to pay with your card, that’s cause for concern.

How to avoid it:

  • Avoid making transactions outside of systems that offer refunds and help protect you from scams. For example, it is safer to buy an item from an ecommerce store like Jumia or Amazon that protects you by offering discounts than to buy from a random and unknown person you met on social media
  • Tread carefully when requested to make payments with gift cards, and be wary of retailers who request such payment methods
  • Beware of any requests for your card details and confidential payment information; keep your details secure
Photo by on Unsplash

Social Media Scams

During the holidays, you may come across contests or promotions on social media offering money, vouchers, or gift cards for performing tasks such as sharing or liking a post or completing an online survey. Such campaigns are usually fraudulent and only a means to infect your device with malware and collect your personal information to commit cybercrimes like identity theft.

How to avoid it:

  • Have a healthy skepticism because, most times, offers that are too good to be true turn out to be scams
  • Never give out your personal information, except when absolutely necessary, and only to verified persons or businesses
Photo by dole777 on Unsplash

How to Protect Your Business and Your Users From Holiday Scams

Don’t let scammers spoil your holidays or that of your customers. Remain well-rested and at ease, knowing that you have deployed and integrated comprehensive KYC, AML, and identity verification checks into your platform to help keep out bad actors and protect genuine users while they carry out transactions.

Dojah’s end-to-end onboarding and identity verification platform provides you with a wide array of no-code tools, widgets and APIs needed to protect yourself and your customers during the holiday season and beyond.

Start verifying your users with ease today. Contact us if you have any questions or schedule a demo session. Explore our website and documentation to learn more about our product offerings.




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