Holidays are for giving, but for some it’s a season of taking. Don’t let a Grinch ruin your holiday! Below are some common scams and what to look out for to avoid them.

Online Shopping Scams

Scammers tout incredible deals in emails, websites and social media posts. But clicking the link may take you to fake websites that take your money but don’t send you the item or what arrives is a low-quality version of what you were expecting. Even worse, a visit to a fake site could enable crooks to download malicious software or steal personal information, logins and passwords.


• If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
• If you’ve never heard of a company before, check it out.

Drained Gift Card Scams

Criminals can scratch off strips on the back of gift cards, get the PIN and return them to store racks. Once the card is purchased and loaded, a computer program notifies them and criminals are able to almost instantly drain the value from the cards.


• Purchase gift cards online directly from the merchant. If you do purchase gift cards at a brick-and-mortar store, inspect them for damage or tampering.
• Keep the purchase and activation receipts. You may not have any recourse, but at least with the receipts, you have a shot.

Package Delivery Scams

Porch pirates steal packages from people’s front doors — they are out in force over the holiday season. Scammers will also claim to be carriers (FedEx, UPS, etc.) and send fake package notifications to steal money or personal information.


• Ask shippers if packages can he held at their location until you are notified, or have them delivered in a location that would be hard to see from the road.
• Ignore urgent, unsolicited demands about shipments that you don’t know about. Check directly with the shipper. Don’t click on links.

AARP HAWAI‘I (501(c) nonprofit)
1001 Bishop St., Ste. 625, Honolulu, HI 96813
866-295-7282 |
Fraud Watch Network Helpline: 877-908-3360 (Be sure to leave a message to get a call-back.)
Local AARP events and webinars: