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5 scams to watch out for during this year’s festive season


From online shopping scams to dodgy subscription renewal requests, there are a bunch of ways your finances might get impacted if you aren't careful.

The festive season is my favourite time of the year.

It is a time to celebrate and reconnect with our family, friends and community and the one time in the year when the whole country feels like it is on holiday.

Unfortunately, it is also a time when people are especially vulnerable to scams.

This is because they are busy and often have their guard down. Criminals take advantage of this by circulating fake digital gift cards, posing as charities, targeting specific demographics and so on.

This article includes the 5 most popular scams being circulated right now.

If you want to be aware of the social engineering dangers lurking online, keep reading.

Online shopping

Most people are madly making purchases online in the peak of December as they try to buy last-minute Christmas presents.

This is when you need to make sure to always use reputable retail websites when purchasing online.

  • If you are visiting a site with auctions or resellers, take the time to review their profiles and ensure they have a history of selling.
  • If purchasing from a site for the first time, research the retailer or seller and look for reviews online or on social media.
  • Make sure to use a credit card for online purchases and monitor the card regularly for fraudulent activity.
  • Verify confirmation emails and get tracking numbers for purchases. Watch out for fake delivery texts from Australia post and other couriers.

Gift card scams

With the holiday season in full swing, so are gift card and prize scams.

These scammers will often lie about being a known contact of yours to try to get you to buy them a gift card. They may offer an amazing prize in exchange for your credit card information.

If you receive any suspicious emails like this from someone claiming to be your friend, make sure to confirm it with them through another method before doing anything further.

And as always, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.


Be wary of scammers and phishing attempts. They are worse during the holiday season.

This would not only hurt those who fall for the scams, but also charities that would have benefited from donations.

For example, an attacker may pretend to be associated with a charity related to current events or one with a familiar name.

If someone contacts you asking for money via personal email or another method, beware that it might be fraudulent.

Demographic targeting

With more people shopping online and sharing personal information right now, scammers are taking advantage by targeting consumers with fraud that seems more realistic.

For example, you might get an email from what looks like your child's school about a Christmas fundraiser.

But if you click on the link in the email, it could take you to a fake website where you're asked to enter sensitive information such as your credit card number or other unique identifiers.

These types of scams can be difficult to identify because they seem so personalised. But if you're aware of potential threats and know what to look for, you can help protect yourself against them.

Subscription renewals

Scammers love to target people at the end of the year and one nasty version of these emails spoofs antivirus services.

They lure victims with promises of improved security, but if you take a closer look at the sender's email address, you can usually spot these scams easily.

Remember the basics: keep all systems, apps and plug-ins updated, especially your antivirus software. Make sure you use multi-factor authentication wherever possible and do not trust anything you have not 100% verified or expected.

By being aware of these popular scams circulating this holiday season, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from potential fraud and enjoy the festive season in full swing.

Happy holidays!

Jacqueline Jayne is the security awareness advocate at KnowBe4 (APAC). She has over 20 years' experience as a conduit between people and technology and has mastered the art of communication and influence.

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