Rebecca Garland
Rebecca Garland
Business and Education Expert

It’s almost Christmas 2023, and there is much to celebrate this year. Families are starting decorating for the holidays and planning their Christmas activities , and it’s a great time to reflect on the past year and the fun to come. 

With so many Christmas deals out there, it’s easy to get caught up in the fun of the season without considering what might go wrong. But if you want to have a safe Christmas, you need to move with a bit of caution. After all, you don’t want to fall for any of the many Christmas scams. 

Key Insights:

  • There are different types of Christmas scams. They may vary from gift card scams and fake shipping notification emails to fake social media ads and delivery scams.
  • You can avoid Christmas scams in many cases by reading reviews, checking for site authenticity, and exercising caution while you shop. 
  • Not clicking through emails about shopping or delivery issues and navigating through the official website in your browser instead can protect you against holiday scams. 

Ready to fully enjoy Christmas 2023? We’ve outlined some of the most common holiday scams so you can avoid them and celebrate safely this year. 

Top 7 Scams of Christmas 2023

Below is a list of the most common Christmas scams to be watching for in 2023.

1. Gift card scams

Technology can be hard to beat sometimes, especially when someone is willing to use it to take advantage of Christmas deals. When someone unethical finds a way to steal serial numbers and barcodes from gift cards, they don’t need the actual card you purchased as Christmas gifts – they have all they need to access the funds. 

Of course, sometimes potential gift card scams can be tricky to spot, as in the case of a customer who wound up waiting more than three months for a new Kohl’s gift card after the first one mysteriously didn’t get activated correctly by the store associates. 

How to avoid gift card scams this Christmas

  • Gift cash not cards. Consider giving cash instead of a gift card.
  • Buy gifts instead. Buy items and include a gift receipt. Then recipients can simply exchange the items for something they’d rather have.
  • Shop in person. Buy gift cards in person to avoid potential theft in the mail. 

2. Social media gift exchange scams

The most common social media gift exchange preys on our good intentions. The scheme works like this: you join a “Secret Sister” or “Secret Santa” group. You give the group your personal information and invite other friends to join – the more members, the better! Then, you are supposed to buy gifts for certain folks, and in return, you’ll be getting potentially dozens of gifts sent to you! 

Social media gift exchange scam

Of course, it only works because you have recruited more people to play after you, ensuring you get things, but they might not. While this sounds like a fun game to play during the holidays that might help boost your gift count, it may turn out to be a real Christmas scam and a perfect way for criminals to get your personal information. 

How to avoid social media gift exchange scams this Christmas:

  • Ignore invites. If you’re invited to join a group like Secret Sisters, just ignore it.
  • Never share personal information. You don’t want to give out your personal information to strangers online. Ever. But especially not around the holidays when scams are rampant.
  • Gift exchange with friends and family. Want to do a fun secret gift exchange? Trade names and enjoy one with friends and family you know. 

3. Social media networks giveaways 

Holiday giveaways are great promotions for companies, and they can land you a great deal or even a free item. Scammers know this and might create fake giveaways that look legitimate to try and collect personal information. 

If you are invited to participate in raffles or giveaways, you may be offered free coupons and gift cards. You will likely be given a link to a new page where the giveaway is happening. These might be fake social media pages for celebrities or popular brands. Once you interact with the page, you may be prompted to sign up with your personal information or asked to include your credit card information for free shipping on the item you “won.”

How to avoid social media giveaway scams this Christmas:

  • Be wary. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Verify sites. Visit the official company page to check for authenticity before entering information. 
  • Watch for redirects. Don’t click on links that redirect you to new locations. Visit the official site and look for terms and conditions. 

4. Fake shipping notification emails

The holidays are a busy time for shipping. Scammers take advantage of the volume by trying to sneak a bit of extra information from you through shipping notifications. This usually shows up as an email from a “company” about a “shipping or delivery issue.” 

When customers click on the link provided in the email to resolve the “issue,” they are taken to a website where they are asked to provide personal information or login details for sites where they have stored payment information like Amazon or eBay. The scammer then can order items on their dime and have them sent to them instead of the card holder.

Below you can find an example of such a fake shipping email. Pay attention to the link. It is not a valid UPS link:

Fake Shipping Notification Emails

How to avoid shipping notification scams this Christmas:

  • Visit sites directly. If you have an item coming through UPS, visit the site directly to track shipping rather than clicking links.
  • Create shipping accounts. Create an account with UPS, FedEx, and the post office to track packages heading your way more easily. 

5. Fake social media ads

There are many ads for various Christmas activities and gifts in your area through social media. Some show up in your direct feed and others are in a marketplace like Facebook. During the holidays, scammers create fake ads to try and steal information or money. 

One Facebook user took to a review site to alert others to how commonplace this practice is. They noted in the feedback:

People are posting fake ads,the purpose of which is to get your email address…They actually have nothing for sale. 

 In this case, at least, the user didn’t fall for the scam – they wanted to know how to report them to help protect others. 

How to avoid fake social media ads this Christmas:

  • Look for customer feedback. Even personal sellers on sites like Facebook Marketplace often have reviews through the site. Check those before proceeding.
  • Review profiles. Social media ads will typically let you visit at least part of the profile of the person posting the ad. Visit and look to see if there is a long history of posting or time with the account. Scammers often set up many new accounts to keep the game going. 

6. Delivery scams

If you’re doing your Christmas shopping online this year, be sure you’re working with reputable vendors. Delivery scams can happen when customers use Christmas shopping online to buy items coming from vendors who aren’t entirely ethical. This might happen when you buy Christmas decorations or gifts from a website, and then the items simply never arrive. Or, you try to take advantage of a Christmas sale, and there are suddenly problems that arise after the company has your money but before you have your products. 

One shopper described their experience with a special pillow order in a Dream A Pillow review. They placed an order as a Christmas gift in November, but then received “an email stating my order would be delayed.” The second email stated that “an employee integral To the finishing of my item was out due to family matters.” Finally, Christmas passed and in May the reviewer wrote:

No response. Its been well over 6 months since my order was placed and I can no longer dispute it from my card. Do not do business with this establishment.

How to avoid delivery scams this Christmas:

  • Stay with familiar stores. If you’ve successfully shopped there before, it’s probably a safe bet for this Christmas.
  • Go with established stores. If a store has been around for years, you may trust it more than a holiday pop-up shop.

7. Charity Scams

Unfortunately, there are those who would prey on the generosity of others. Be on the lookout for charity scams as you are popping into the local Christmas tree shop or when fielding phone calls or checking your emails. Charity scams rely on the generosity of others by soliciting donations to a particular charity cause when the scammers are just pocketing the money.

Some charity frauds are straightforward with someone collecting money with a sign or official banners near popular Christmas shopping locations. Others are more complex and involve calling or emailing victims and requesting donations to help buy Christmas gifts for the less fortunate or other ploys that rely on the victim’s goodwill. Some might offer a small “gift” like Christmas ornaments or a certificate for your “donation.”

How to avoid charity scams this Christmas

  • Investigate charities. There are websites and fact checkers online to help ensure the charity you’re donating to is a good one.
  • Contact the organization directly. Don’t give money when someone calls you or comes to the door. 
  • Work locally. Contact a house of worship, mission group, or community center to work directly with local groups who are helping in your area. 

Safe Christmas shopping tips

How to Stay Safe and Avoid Christmas Scams During Christmas 2023

Choose secure websites

Websites that have https at the beginning of the URL are generally secure. If the URL has http without S, it is likely that if you provide your personal information and credit card details, they will be accessible to hackers.

Use One Credit Card

Using a prepaid card or a credit card with a low limit will allow you to do your online holiday shopping a tad easier and safer. It will also simplify things as you will only have one account to monitor for unusual activity. Also, it is recommended to avoid using a debit card for your online purchases. This is because, in the event of a scam, the card issuer will have to fight to get its money while if a scam involves your debit card, you will be the one trying to get your money back. 

Check Online Reviews

This applies whether you are shopping on a well-known platform or a newer platform. You will easily find the top complaints about the company and hence be able to determine if the company is legitimate. It is advisable to check various review websites to get a clear sense of the company’s reliability. Also, search for “company’s name + scam” to see any reported cases of scams about the company.

Enhance your digital security measures

Check that the antivirus software on your computer and phone is up to date. If it’s updated, it should catch any malware and viruses before they can infect your device. Some antiviruses will even warn you about suspicious links and websites before opening them.

You can also be proactive in your digital security by checking on site age and safety. Easily look to see how long a website has existed online (brand new sites are more likely to be scammers) Checking is simple. 

In the address bar, type “site:” and then the name of the company you want to check. For example, if you wanted to check out PissedConsumer, you would need to type “”. Once you hit enter, you will get all the pages that Google has indexed. If the company is old, you will get 100s or even 1000s of pages indexed. Click on the “search tools” > “Any Time” > “Custom Range” (“Any Time” scroll-down menu). You will be able to search a range of dates. 

How to Find Legit Christmas Deals

Below are  tips to help you find legit Christmas offers in 2023:

Follow your favorite stores on social media

Most businesses have legit sales and promotions during the holidays that are posted exclusively on their social media pages or through their newsletters. Follow their official social media pages and sign up for their newsletters to be in the know about ongoing deals.

Use Coupon Codes

Coupon codes can help you save up to 15% on your Christmas shopping. There are numerous shopping apps and websites that offer legit coupon codes. Before you check out an order, check if there are any coupon codes online. If the coupon code has a specific validity date, wait for the right day to complete your transaction.

Leverage on Free Shipping Promos

Most stores offer free shipping all year round on a given minimum order amount. Get clear about what you would like to buy then check various stores to see if you can find most of the items in one store. This will increase your chances of reaching the minimum required amount to be eligible for free shipping. Another option for saving on shipping costs is to buy online but opt for at-the-store pick-up.

Beat Dynamic Pricing Strategies

Some retailers use cookies to track your browsing history and location hence increasing your prices. To outsmart this pricing strategy, clear your browsing history, delete cookies, and switch to incognito mode.

Install Cashback Apps

Cashback apps such as Rakuten partner with online stores to offer customers a rebate on the total purchase amount. Although the rebate amount per purchase may seem insignificant, over time it adds up.

Alternatively, if you are a frequent shopper at a given store throughout the year, it is a great idea to join their rewards program. You may be eligible for some discounts towards the end of the year.

Christmas shopping and activities are joyful events of the year for most families, but scammers are also becoming more active. Stay alert, spot, and avoid Christmas scams this year. Focus on having an enjoyable and safe winter holiday rather than unpleasant consequences of being deceived. 

Legal disclaimers:

  1. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide any legal, medical, accounting, investment or any other professional advice as individual cases may vary and should be discussed with a corresponding expert and/or an attorney.
  2. All or some image copyright belongs to the original owner(s). No copyright infringement intended.

Leave a Reply

Anonymous #12648
You gotta go after Facebook I tried buying something they advertise was Amazon closeout but my bank says it is fraud I purchase something off Facebook not your ad something else advertised as deforester it was an air freshener
John webb #12746
Wondering if the company (Hexclad)is a real company. Paid 169 dollars for fry pan and lid 4 weeks ago. Still nothing! This sure is looking like a scam.
Mark Fairlie #12750
Amazon has a new return policy.It takes two weeks to a month to get Amazon gift balance or longer 5 to 7days longer if going back to original payment.It used to take 3 to 4 hours after receiving item.I’ve been arguing with them for days trying to get my Amazon gift credit.I had supervisors you name it .I’m waiting on a 350.00 dollar refund now won’t have my money till Christmas or longer Rich pricks don’t care about nobody they already received my merchandise what are they going to do with it stare at the shit…..Amazon sucks looks like my kids will have a shitty Christmas cause these as clowns wanna play games……
Mark Fairlie #12751
Amazon sucks.Takes 2 weeks to a month to get your return money now have fun with these clowns.I’ve been on the phone for days with these bozos talk to supervisors they already have my return they just sitting on it that’s the new policy just letting everybody know….By the way, takes 5 to 7 more days if it goes back to your original payment method
Suzanne C #12785
A great, generous initiative....and practical tips also!
Maria Shields #12911
Not only are there scams out there that are not reputable or you have never heard of.These are true corruption companies like Bank of America who puts you thru a circle of run arounds when it is open and shut case.They make you wait 2 years to see if you still wanted to pursue a claim then make you wait 90 days to see if you will receive it. 2 YEARS.Then another one is Insight who is shutting it's card company down in February.(Gee I wonder why). It's the corrupt way they do business.We the consumer take way too much abuse from these huge corporations with no kind of instant satisfaction, usually having to wait years for a resolution that doesn't even cover the stress they administer to your life.
Michele Orlanis #12915
Excellent, well timed advice.I (gratefully) learned some Important facts that I had no idea were risky and potentially harmful. Thank you.
Olvis Guerrero #13055
Thank you. I had no idea I was still being scammed.
Joseph A Gordan #13072
I was scammed by walmart during Christmas for 102. Dollars and td bank in norwood mass has scammed me for 1250. Dollars I been passed over it and td bank just keeps taking
rik #13229
the real time scammer of all time is the traitor in the white house.he has lied from the git go. the numbers he quotes on certain things never match up with truthful poll numbers. he's still sending money to iran.and you know wher that's going. he's buddy buddy with china. they hate us. has goal is to destroy this county.O he's getting kickback for now. I have to word this very carefully. when a person speaks the truth, well, they dissapear. I remember when gas was 27 cents a gallon.. a loaf of REAL bread was 25 cents. real chicken. no chemicals was pennies a pound. you could actually have good brouth. and it tasted like, it has no flavor at all. we're fast becoming a thirdworld county.and the influx of the illegals and there space craft. yeah.we have a choice. to pick the lesser of two evils.a lot of folks say, hit don't make no never mind who we vote fur.the electorial decides.well I like ta think different. and my man is trump.he tells ya to your face.
Cheryl S #13441
Thanks for your gmail sent a while ago related to Christmas scams, very informative and helpful.NB. Toluna is still scamming me re: points and refusing me to get to their surveys/sites Is there a way through their tampering with email IP address and screens?