Holiday Shopping Tips: 8 Ways to Avoid Being Scammed this Season

Holiday shopping is in full swing and Americans are expected to spend an eye-popping 720 billion dollars this season. With all of this money flooding the marketplace, you can be sure that scammers are out in full force trying to steal your money and personal information.


To protect yourself during this season of giving, here are 8 tips to help you shop safely:

  1. Don’t shop online using a public wi-fi network: Using a public wi-fi network exposes your personal information to scammers and identity thieves. Only use wi-fi networks that you know and trust.
  2. Only purchase through secure sites: Paying through secure sites protects the information you are sending because it is encrypted. These sites have a lock icon in the status bar and their URL begins with “https.”
  3. Pay with a credit card: Use a credit card if you can. Credit cards—rather than checks, wire transfers or debit cards—offer greater protections to dispute charges when goods or services are not delivered as promised.
  4. Deliver packages to a secure location: Thieves are increasingly stealing mailed packages left on front doorsteps. If possible, have packages delivered to a secure location, like your workplace or to a friend who will be home and can accept the package.
  5. Research businesses carefully: It is always best to buy from businesses you know and trust. If you’re unfamiliar with a business, be sure to read online reviews and research the company on sites like the Better Business Bureau.
  6. Ask about refunds and keep receipts: Sometimes presents need to be exchanged or returned. Always familiarize yourself with a store’s refund policy and keep every receipt.
  7. Keep an eye out for scams: Beware of emails about a holiday deal that seems too good to be true. Scam emails often include logos or company names that are similar to legitimate businesses. Avoid clicking on links in these emails and navigate to the business through an online search engine to see if the deal exists.
  8. Report scams to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG): If you believe you have been the victim of a scammer, contact OAG by calling 202-442-9828, emailing, or submitting a complaint online.

OAG has the authority to investigate and prosecute scammers who commit identity theft. AG Racine is committed to protecting the personal information of District residents from identity thieves and neglectful companies that don’t sufficiently protect consumer data. You can learn more tips by reading our free Online Privacy resource and other resources at