person holding three Christmas shopping bags outside

Christmas Scams

The 12 Scams of Christmas

With gift giving season quickly approaching, it’s the most fraudulent time of the year. To help consumers identify common scams, the Better Business Bureau has put together a list for shoppers to be mindful of.

Here are the Better Business Bureau’s 12 Scams of Christmas

1. Misleading Social Media Ads
The 2021 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report found that online purchase scams were the most common cons reported to Scam Tracker and the category with the most victims. Do your homework and research the company before ordering. Check out the business profile on and read the reviews.

2. Social Media Gift Exchanges
These scams revolve around exchanging $10 gifts online. Another twist asks you to submit your email into a list where participants get to pick a name and send money to strangers to "pay it forward." In all versions, participants unwittingly share their personal information.
3. Holiday Apps
Apple's App Store and Google Play list dozens of holiday-themed apps where children can video chat live with Santa, light the menorah, watch Santa feed live reindeer, track his sleigh on Christmas Eve, or relay their holiday wish lists. Be wary of free apps, as they can sometimes contain more advertising than apps that require a nominal fee. Free apps can also contain malware.

4. Alerts About Compromised Accounts
There are cons that claim your Amazon, PayPal, Netflix or bank account have been compromised. Victims receive an email, call, or text message which explains that there has been suspicious activity on one of their accounts, and it further urges them to take immediate action. Be extra cautious about unsolicited calls, emails, and texts.

5. Free Gift Cards
Nothing brings good cheer like the word 'FREE'. Scammers have been known to send bulk phishing emails requesting personal information in exchange for gift cards. In some of these emails, scammers impersonate legitimate companies.

6. Temporary Holiday Jobs
Retailers typically hire seasonal workers to help meet the demands of holiday shoppers. Seasonal jobs are a great way to make extra money, sometimes with the possibility of turning into a long-term employment opportunity. However, job seekers need to be wary of employment scams aimed at stealing money and personal information from job applicants.

7. Look-alike Websites
Look-alike websites created by scammers trick people into downloading malware, making dead-end purchases, and sharing private information. If you are uncertain about an email, or other form of communication, do not click any of the links.

8. Fake Charities
Avoid impromptu donation decisions to unfamiliar organizations. Responsible organizations will welcome a gift tomorrow as much as they do today. Verify a charity at BBB's

9. Fake Shipping Notifications
Scammers are using this new surge to send phishing emails with links enclosed that may allow unwanted access to your private information or download malware onto your device. They may also try to trick people into paying new shipping fees.

10. Pop-up Holiday Virtual Events
Many local in-person events such as pop-up holiday markets or craft fairs, have moved online. Scammers are creating fake event pages, social media posts, and emails, charging admission for what used to be a free event. The goal is to steal credit card information. Confirm with the organizer of the event if there is an admission fee.

11. Top Holiday Wish List Items
Low or ridiculously priced luxury goods, jewelry, designer clothing, and electronics are almost always cheap counterfeits and knockoffs. Be very cautious when considering purchasing these high-value items from individuals through social sites.

12. Puppy Scams
Many families, especially those with children, may be considering adding a furry friend to their household this year. Request to see the pet in person before making a purchase and only purchase from someone you know or a reputable breeder.

At Flatwater Bank, we value keeping your information safe from scammers. Learn more about the ways we keep your information secure here. To stay up to date on the latest scams, visit our insider tips page.