Hectic holiday season: Shipping, shopping, job scams to watch out for

Con artists take advantage of people during chaotic holiday shopping season

With so much going on, and so many pandemic-caused delays, shopping during the holiday season can be chaotic -- and scammers know this. Here are some scams you should watch out for, from fake shipping emails to fake websites, that could catch you off guard.

You keep hearing it from us, but that’s because it’s true: The pandemic is making it easier and easier for scammers to take advantage of people. And the hectic holiday season only makes people more vulnerable to scams.

With so much going on, and so many pandemic-induced delays and shortages, shopping during the holiday season can be chaotic -- and scammers know this. Criminals try to strike and catch you while you’re off guard and distracted by it all.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers to beware of fake shipping notifications popping up in your email or text messages amid the holiday shopping season. People are urged to not click on any links included in these messages.

“Whenever you click on that link, it then downloads malware to your device, granting (scammers) access to anything you have on the device, such as passwords to bank account information, or any of your personal information,” said Laura Blankenship with the BBB.

Related: Check the receipt: You may have paid an extra fee due to supply chain issues

Phishing scams can also come at you from messages claiming to be from popular retailers offering deals. Experts say online shopping scams are a particularly big problem through the end of the year.

“That’s when fake websites pop up. Fake ads on social media pop up that take you to a fake website, a retailer that doesn’t actually exist, usually offering great deals on products or on toys -- big toys that are in low supply,” Blankenship said.

For those looking for a holiday job, beware of secret shopper job scams -- especially if they’re asking you to buy gift cards.

“A lot of times, they’ll ask for gift cards, and then they’ll ask you to read the code on the back of the gift card. Well, they may send a check for you to pay for these gift cards, the check looks legitimate, and even the bank doesn’t flag you right away with those fake checks,” Blankenship said.

Remember: A real employer won’t ask you to pay for anything up front.

Be skeptical of jobs that don’t require an interview to be hired, or are offering you big money for small jobs. Also important: Never do the work before getting fully hired.


Related: Toy safety: Holiday shoppers urged to avoid knock-off products, unfamiliar retailers


About the Author:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.