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A yellow traffic sign with text that reads holidays scams ahead. The sign appears over red, green, and blue holiday season lights.

It is always a good idea to be careful when shopping online. Scammers can be waiting to trick you out of your money in even the most unexpected of places. This is especially true for the holiday season. November and December see some of the biggest sales volumes every year. While you might find some great deals online this time of year, scammers are also busy trying to cheat you out of your money. Newcomers unfamiliar with these scams can easily fall prey. Here are some common online holiday season scams and how to avoid them.

Counterfeit Products

While shopping online, you might come across a great product. The product looks attractive in the pictures and the price is way below what you expect the price should be. If this is the case, the product is probably a scam. Scammers will buy cheap, illegitimate products that imitate recognized brands from a supplier. These products pose a threat to your health and safety and are produced with no care for regular consumers. They are then sold online as authentic products to turn a bigger profit.

It is easy to fall for this scam because of the way it is set up. These fake goods will be priced in a way that makes them stand out. However, they usually aren’t cheap enough to make them look suspicious. Many people make the mistake of trusting the product just because the price is reasonable. With the right information and a cautious approach, it is possible to spot and avoid buying counterfeit goods online.

How to Avoid Buying a Counterfeit Product During the Holiday Season

Before you hit the checkout button, it is a good idea to research the seller. The best way to avoid buying counterfeit products is to buy from the company that produces them. For example, if you are buying an iPhone charger online on Amazon, there is a good chance that the charger is counterfeit. To make sure you get an authentic iPhone charger, your best bet is to buy from the Apple online store.

Of course, not all third-party sellers online sell counterfeit goods. Some independent third-party sellers do sell authentic products online. The best way to find the difference between counterfeit and authentic items is to look at the price. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.

If you find a product online that looks suspicious and you think it might be a fake, you can report it. To learn how to report a counterfeit product, visit this Canadian Anti-Fraud Center page.

Fake Websites

The internet is filled with fake websites that claim to sell authentic products. Shopping from these sites results in receiving low-quality products or sometimes, not even receiving anything at all. 

A good way to identify a fake website is by looking at the URL of the page you are on. The domain name of the website will almost always be the same as the brand name. If you are looking to buy an iPhone charger from Apple, the domain name should be If it is not, you are most likely browsing on a fake website that sells counterfeit apple products.

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Holiday Season Gift Scams

One of the best parts of the Canadian holiday season is the exchange of gifts. Canadians like to send gifts to their friends and family during this time of year. Sadly, scammers have found a way to cheat you out of your money here as well.

Drained Gift Cards

In recent years, the practice of buying gift cards online during the holiday season has become common. Gift cards are fast and convenient but also allow you to show a thoughtful gesture to your loved ones. While gift cards are great, it is a good idea to be careful when shopping for gift cards online. Many online gift card vendors are fakes. This means that the gift cards you buy from them will be drained of value and will have no money left in them.

The best and easiest way to avoid this scam is to buy gift cards directly from the company. For example, if you want to buy an online gift card from Best Buy, the best place to do that would be through the Best Buy website. While some outside sources might sell valid gift cards for Best Buy, it is best to play it safe.

Holiday Season Online Cards

Another scam that revolves around holiday gifts is fake online cards. Since the pandemic, many aspects of our lives shifted online. Things like online learning and shopping were common before the pandemic. During the pandemic, we had to find new ways to celebrate the holiday season. So many people will send online cards. However, the card you receive can be from a scammer.

The purpose of these fake cards is to introduce harmful malware such as spyware and ransomware into your device. Scammers can then steal your personal information or lock down your computer to make you pay a ransom. Either way, this is something you want to avoid. The best and simplest way to do that is to be careful when you open any cards. If you do not recognize the person who sent the card, you should think twice before opening it. 

Outrageously High Prices

You also need to look out for prices that are too high for the product you want to buy. Scammers will target people that do not know the market price of a product to turn a bigger profit. Even though many people wouldn’t consider this a scam, it’s a very real way for scammers to cheat you out of your money.

This is probably the easiest scam to avoid as you just have to know the market price for that product. If you want to buy an iPhone charger, do some research on how much they sell for. That way, you will know whether or not the seller is pricing the charger too high. Knowing the market price will also tell you if the charger is too cheap, which could suggest that the charger is a counterfeit product.

This overview of online shopping scams gives you an idea of what techniques scammers use against you. There are countless other scams you will find during the holiday season and they cannot all be covered in a single article. The best way to avoid any scam online is to be cautious of what you are about to click. As long as you know what you are doing on the internet, online holiday season scams will become easy to spot and avoid.

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