Category: Safe and Secure

Holiday Shopping Scams

Holiday Shopping Scams
While many of us are spending time with family, decorating, and shopping for gifts there are is an equal number spending time trying to take advantage of the season and scam online and in-store shoppers. A new AARP study shows the impact that scammers can have on every aspect of your shopping experience. In this day in age knowledge is power. Listed below are some of the facts from the study plus ways to prevent holiday shopping scams.

Online Shopping Scams

FACT: 35% of US adults have experienced fraud when buying a product through an online ad.

SCAM: Scammers will advertise super low prices for popular items. The consumer clicks on the link and is brought to a copycat or made-up site. From that point, they could simply steal your money or download malicious software to your device and steal your personal information.


  • Although it’s tempting, if the product is drastically cheaper than every other seller it’s probably a scam. Even if they don’t just take your money, they could send you a cheaper, lower quality version.
  • Do a little research. Search the company name with the words “scam, complaint, fraud” and see if anyone else has reported suspicious behavior. Also, check the website to see if it seems legitimate. Check for things such as errors, missing company contact information, and atypical web addresses.
  • To avoid going to a cloned site, don’t click on links sent to you; search the address yourself instead.

Drained Gift Card Scams

FACT: 21% of US adults have either given or received a gift card with no money on it.

SCAM: Scammers take an unpurchased gift card, get the PIN, replace the film strip covering it, then enter the information into a program. The program alerts them that it has been purchased then they drain the funds.


  • Get gift cards directly from the company online. Always make sure the website is legitimate.
  • Check your gift cards before you buy them to make sure they have not been tampered with.
  • Only purchase gift cards that have secure packaging and a hard to access bar code.
  • Keep all receipts from the transaction. It’s not a guarantee that you could get your money back but at least with the receipts it is possible.

Package Delivery Scams

FACT: 25% of US adults have had a package stolen from outside their home. 34% of US adults have received a fake notification about a shipment.

SCAM: Thieves, or in this case “porch pirates”, steal packages that are sitting outside of people’s houses. Scammers also send notifications claiming to be a shipping carrier that needs money or personal information for you to get your shipment.


  • Try to request that the carrier put your packages in an inconspicuous location or have the packages held at their facility until you pick it up. Amazon does offer to deliver packages to their Hub Locker locations in grocery stores and retail centers.
  • If you get a notification from a carrier regarding a shipment make sure you are expecting a shipment from them in the first place. If you are, contact the carrier directly to verify if anything is needed. If the notifications are pressuring you for personal information or money it is most likely a scam.

Please stay extra alert to avoid the pain and headache of being a victim of holiday shopping scams. Look out for yourself, your neighbors, and your family and friends. The more people that are aware of common holiday scams, the more we can protect the holiday spirit of giving.

Also, take advantage of our card management services within your SMFCU Mobile app that let you manage and control your SMFCU cards in real time.

Visit to read more about this and more ways to avoid common scams.

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