Common Online Christmas Scams to Be Aware of This Holiday Season

Lukas Grigas
Cybersecurity Content Writer
common online christmas scams santa

Christmas is just around the corner, and while the holiday season is a joyful one and puts us into a giving mood, it also tends to be a time when cybercrooks ramp up their efforts.

Most of us who celebrate Christmas tend to focus on making lasting memories with our loved ones and may have our guards down. Cybercrooks see this opportunity as a way to strike it big.

So today, we’re looking at the most common online Christmas scams that you should be aware of this holiday season and share a few security tips that can help you enjoy the festive period without falling victim to cyber scams.

Common online Christmas scams

The variety of different types of online Christmas scams results from bad actors always looking for new ways to trick unsuspecting people. Here are some of the most common types of online scams that you are likely to come across during the holiday season.

Phishing scams

Phishing scams are among the oldest and most popular types of online scams. During a phishing scam, bad actors send fake emails or text messages that appear to be from legitimate companies. In the fake emails, cybercrooks urge unsuspecting people to click on a link or provide sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, and full names. During the festive season, bad actors tend to use Christmas-inspired messages with the hopes of abusing our joyful spirit.

Gift card scams

Christmas is the season of giving, so it’s no surprise gift card scams are popular during this time of year. Gift card scams typically work by offering faux gift cards for sale at a very attractive price. Usually, bad actors use fake websites or set up phishing campaigns to promote their fake gift cards. If you end up buying one of the faux gift cards, in most instances you will receive a card with a fake number. In other instances you might not get anything at all.

Fake-charity scams

Many of us get into the charitable spirit come Christmastime. Unfortunately, cybercrooks like to take advantage of our good intentions. During the holiday season, cybercriminals ramp up their spread of fake-charity scams. Usually, bad actors carry out these scams by setting up websites and social media pages that masquerade as legitimate charities. Donations made to the fake charities go directly into the scammers’ pocket.

Travel scams

Cybercriminals try to take advantage of the uptick in travel during the holidays by offering fake travel deals or discounts. In many cases, bad actors behind a travel scam pose as travel agents offering great discounts on ticket fares or vacation packages. Often, scammers will ask for upfront payment and personal information. Once the victim provides the bad actors with money and sensitive data, they disappear into thin air.

How to stay secure online during the holiday season

Falling victim to an online scam during the holiday season can ruin anyone’s festive mood. To help you and your family stay safe online, we’ve prepared a few tips that can significantly reduce your chances of getting scammed.

Stay away from suspicious emails

Be wary of emails or messages that appear to be from a reputable company or individual but that ask for personal information or offer too-good-to-be-true deals. Never click on links or download attachments from unknown sources.

Don't overshare on social media

Limit what you share on social media. Avoid posting personal information such as your address or details about your holiday plans or whereabouts, Doing so could give criminals a way to target you in an online scam. Consider setting your social media profile to private, to limit who can see your posts.

Keep your software and devices up to date

Install the latest security updates and patches for your operating system, web browsers, and other software as well as for your smartphone and other connected devices. Bad actors can use holes in outdated software to gain access to your devices and by extension all information on those devices.

Use strong and unique passwords

Using strong, complex, and unique passwords is the most effective way to keep your online accounts secure at all times. Strong passwords should include a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.

Additionally, you should refrain from using the same password for multiple accounts because it significantly lowers your overall security posture. Think about it this way: If you use a single password for all of your online accounts, a hacker that gets their hands on that single password will have access to all of your online accounts instantly.

Use secure networks

One of the easiest ways to improve your overall online security this holiday season is by only using secure network connections. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks because cybercrooks are infamous for using such networks to steal data that is in transit. When you connect to a secure network, all the information you send and receive is encrypted, which makes it much harder for bad actors to intercept and read it. Using encrypted networks is especially important when you are transmitting sensitive data such as credit card details and passwords. So when you go online to get gifts for your loved ones, make sure your connection is secure.

Use multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security to your online accounts by requiring you to verify your identity via multiple steps. Usually MFA requires you to enter a code that is sent to your phone or email in addition to your password. This makes it difficult for attackers to gain access to your online accounts even if they have your password and username on their hands.

The NordPass Family plan: An easy way to stay safe online for the whole family

These days, the use of password managers is widespread among businesses and individuals. But there’s also a good case for using a password manager such as NordPass within a family setting.

Using a password manager such as NordPass can help any family keep track of their passwords and other sensitive information in a secure and organized way. Furthermore, a password manager can help everyone in the family choose strong, complex, and unique passwords.

Families also tend to share a lot of sensitive information. Say that you need to share your credit card details with your spouse. Doing so over email or messaging apps can be risky, but with a password manager such as NordPass, you can securely share your passwords, credit cards, and other sensitive information without the fear of exposing it to malicious third parties.

Essentially, the NordPass Family plan is a subscription plan that combines six separate NordPass Premium accounts. It is an excellent way to introduce a password manager to your family.

Subscribe to NordPass news

Get the latest news and tips from NordPass straight to your inbox.