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7 holiday shopping scams Coloradans should be aware of before Christmas shopping

Last-minute shoppers are falling victim to con artists, but a few simple tips should keep your money safe this holiday season
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Posted at 5:17 PM, Dec 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-19 20:19:15-05

DENVER — Grinch scammers are hitting Coloradans this holiday season, but being aware of the type of scams they'll be employing can keep your and your loved ones money safe as thousands wait for Santa Claus.

Denver7 consumer investigator Jaclyn Allen breaks down seven popular holiday shopping scams and how you can save your holiday spirit.

7 holiday shopping scams Coloradans should be aware of before Christmas shopping

Social media deals

Unbelievable prices listed on social media, such as $0.88 for a fur jacket or $8 for a parka, probably shouldn't be believed. Linda Garvey found out the hard way after clicking on a link that took her to a fake Shein site. She never got her real order.

The "fake boss" scam

We all want to contribute to group gifts at work. Recently, Steve Beaty, a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver, said scammers sent his mother an email from her “boss” asking for 20 $30 gift vouchers so he could forward them to his team.

The message seemed credible and all the team-member names in the correspondence were correct. But she thought something seemed a bit off.

"Sure enough, it was a hacker who had used the company website and LinkedIn to get everyone’s details and establish the workplace dynamics. The only clue was a subtly different email address," wrote Beaty. "How do you avoid such scams? If something seems even slightly fishy, first call or send a secure message to the person to make sure everything is legit."

Puppy scams

Before you add a new family member this holiday season, the Better Business Bureau warns that you don't pay by wire transfer or gift card, and try to see the pet in person before you put money down.

"Some experts are saying that up to 80% of sponsored pet advertisements can actually be faked," said Meghan Compton with the Better Business Bureau. "So you want to be extra cautious if you are looking to get a puppy or any kind of pet."

Public Wi-Fi hackers

Grinch hackers love free Wi-Fi hotspots, so cybersecurity expert Edgar Maldonado with MSU Denver said he usually uses his phone's Wi-Fi. Experts warn Coloradans to not use online banking or retail on public Wi-Fi and to never accept a "certificate" from any source.

Shipping scams

We are all expecting packages, but you shouldn't have to click on a text or email to confirm a shipment. The only time you'll need to click a link is if the package is already in transit — just make sure the link you're clicking on comes from a verifiable source.

Shady sites

How do you know if that unfamiliar shopping site is secure? Look for the lock. Beaty wrote that most browsers now have a padlock symbol at the left-hand side of the URL bar, which is generally an indicator the website is secure.

Drained gift card

Make sure the gift card you are giving is sealed and keep the receipt. If it has been drained, you can immediately request a refund.

With all these tips in mind, happy safe holiday shopping!

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