4 Online Shopping Scams to Watch Out for This Holiday Season

Tuesday, November 16, 2021


Black Friday has traditionally been the day that kicks off the holiday shopping season. It sends hordes of crowds surging through malls and big-box stores all over the nation. Unfortunately, it’s also been a day that kicks off the season of shopping scams.

Below are four scams to watch out for this Black Friday and throughout the holiday shopping season. 

The Amazon Prime Service Fraud Scam

A scammer posing as an Amazon representative calls a target about an alleged problem with their Prime account. The victim is prompted to download a tool on their computer or mobile device. That “tool” gives the scammer remote access to “help them resolve the problem” that is at hand. If they comply, the victim is instructed to log onto their banking account, supposedly so the caller can be compensated. Unfortunately, doing this will give the scammer direct access to the victim’s accounts.

Phishing Emails

Phishing emails can be difficult to spot among the barrage of promotional emails flooding inboxes during this time of year. Here are two common variations of phishing scams:

  • Account verification. The victim receives an email appearing to be from a retailer they frequently shop. It informs them that someone has tried to hack into their account. They’re asked to verify their account, or update their account details, through an embedded link. Doing so, however, will give a scammer access to their account. The scammer can now rack up a huge bill and leave the victim to pick up the tab.
  • Order confirmation. The victim receives an email asking them to confirm an order made through Amazon or another large e-tailer. They’ll be asked to verify the order details through an embedded link. Unfortunately, doing so will give their personal information directly to the scammers.

Delivery Issues Scam

The coronavirus pandemic has forever changed the way Americans shop. It’s resulted in the volume of U.S. online purchases increasing steadily, according to the Census Bureau’s quarterly e-commerce reports. Scammers are well aware of this. They’ve been quick to capitalize on the opportunities to pull off delivery scams, especially this time of year.

Delivery scams generally take the form of a message informing the victim of a “delivery issue” with an order. They’ll be asked to confirm or update their information with the provided link. Doing so will give the scammer access to their financial information and open the door to identity theft and more.

In another variation of the delivery scam, a victim will be asked to pay a fee for covering a customs charge or tax. Of course, these fees are invented by the scammer, who will gladly pocket the money.

Non-delivery Scam

Another scam that has spiked with the increase in online shopping is the non-delivery scam. It involves a purchased gift that never arrives. The victim, likely lured in by an ad promising a super-low price, rushed to purchase without researching the seller. The seller then disappears and the victim has no way of notifying them about the no-show or requesting a refund.

How to Avoid Black Friday Scams

Follow these tips to keep your shopping free of scams:

  • Don’t open links in emails sent from unverified contacts.
  • Never allow a stranger access to your device and/or accounts.
  • Don’t share sensitive information on the phone or online with an unknown contact.
  • If contacted by an alleged representative of a retailer about an issue with your account, hang up. Then, check your account to see if an issue is actually present.
  • Always keep the privacy and spam settings on your computer and mobile devices at their strongest settings.
  • If you have an issue with an ordered item, contact the retailer directly through their site. Avoid pop-up ads appearing to represent the retailer. Likewise, avoid “support links” from troubleshooting forums, as they may not direct to legitimate service sites.
  • Only purchase items from reputable sellers. When shopping on a new site, look for a physical address, customer service number and copy that’s free of typos.

Keep Your Accounts Safe While You Shop

This holiday shopping season, protect your accounts with the help of the MobiMoney app. Add your McCoy debit card to the app to control how, when, and where your card is used directly from your smartphone. This includes:

  • Turning your card off and on instantly
  • Setting limits, controls, and preferences
  • Receiving alerts on card activity

At McCoy Federal Credit Union, we work hard to protect you against fraud attempts of any kind. Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season!

McCoy FCU 11/16/2021