Christmas Online Shopping Scams (And How To Avoid Them)

A January 2018 study by Adobe Analytics showed a 14.7% rise in retail sales during the 2017 Christmas season. Majority of this improvement is attributed to the rise in popularity of online shopping that has made getting Christmas supplies so easy. All you have to do is launch a site click on items you are interested in and they will be delivered to your doorstep.

In addition to the convenience and variety you get, there is the benefit of getting to know what other people who have used the items think about it. All in all, online shopping makes Christmas so much better. But is it really all perfect shopping experiences and happy customers? The answer, unfortunately, is no.

There are many fake websites out there that prey on unsuspecting shoppers and their desperation to get all they need quickly. They run different scams where you end up either getting substandard products or none delivered at all. This isn’t even all that could possibly go wrong when you decide to do all your shopping online. Below is a more comprehensive list.

Scams and everything else that could go wrong

1. Fake websites

With the sudden increase in e-commerce popularity, there has been a rise in the number of fake shopping websites out there. They have it all from catalogs to checkout pages. However, after you pay you will find yourself waiting forever for products that just aren’t coming.

2. Charity scams

This is a new scam on the block with people posting about Christmas charities that are in real life not existent. They may ask you to donate items that they then sell or money that they keep for themselves. There are also a few online shopping sites that promise to donate a certain percentage of their sales profits to charity for Christmas but never really do.

 3. Knock off products

There are a lot of fake products out there. This is mainly the case when buying electronics from online shopping websites. You might think you are buying an original from a trusted brand only to receive a faulty knock off on delivery. The best way around this is to shop only from trusted sites or from the manufacturers themselves.

4. Identity theft

This happens with sites that insist on you giving sensitive information when signing up or checking out items. They often ask for things like social security numbers and credit card details that they then use in other fraudulent activities. This may be a rare scam but it is definitely one that you do not want to be caught up in.

5. Hidden logistics costs

You just saw what seems like the discount of a lifetime. You excitedly add it to your cart but as you go to check it out you are hit with a rude surprise. The final invoice is way higher than you thought. The site may be included things like transport costs and more that you were not aware of. This happens a lot and although it may not qualify as a fraud it is definitely really shady. A recent study shows that 28% of shoppers abandon their carts when these costs get too high. There is nothing wrong with being a part of this statistic.

6. Delayed deliveries

More often than not, Christmas shopping is time sensitive. Maybe you ordered some cooking device you intend to use for the big day’s dinner. Or it could be a special gift you need to have arrived by Christmas morning. These scenarios are what make delayed deliveries such a massive headache. The best way around this is to do your shopping early.

7. Order mixing

This happens mainly with smaller online shopping websites. In this scenario, you may end up receiving someone else’s order while they get yours. This is very rare and only happens with websites that do not use automated order tracking systems. It is, therefore, something you might not have to worry too much about.

8. What you see is not what you get

You might think something you ordered looked amazing online only to have something totally underwhelming delivered to you. This happens a lot not only during the Christmas season but throughout the year. Reviews again me handy here giving you a better idea of what to expect. The last thing anyone wants is the Christmas ornaments they were waiting for to show up several sizes too small or in weird colors.

9. Using loopholes to deny you deserved refunds

Something else that could go wrong is getting denying refunds that you deserve. Websites use clauses hidden in terms and conditions to effect these scams. After all, who even reads the fine print?

Signs of a shady shopping site

Fortunately for you as the shopper, these scam sites are outnumbered by the good guys who truly want to see you happy this Christmas. There is also the fact that the fakers are not so hard to spot. All you have to do is be vigilant and learn here are a few red flags you will spot.

–        Offers that make you feel pressured to buy

Christmas will not be ruined if you do not buy that blender. It is just a ploy marketers use to get you shopping on panic mode.

–        Lack of a physical location

If there is no physical address attached to the website then you need to get out while you still can. It is highly likely that you are dealing with a fake site.  

–        Lack of contact information

This means that you have no way of reaching out to them in the event that something goes wrong with your purchase. Spare yourself the frustration and just find a company that provides this information.

–        Requests for sensitive personal information

If the site is asking for things like social security, passport numbers and passwords currently in use then run like a lion is chasing you. These are usually identity theft scams masquerading as shopping sites. Even when they aren’t it is better not to take chances.

–        Online reviews warning against the sites

Learn from the experiences of other shoppers if you do not want to end up jades. You can get an idea of what to expect from various reviews online. If they all seem to paint a picture that you do not like then find another site.

–        Suspiciously low prices

If the price seems too good to be true then you are likely being lured into a scam. Do not fall for it! Is that simple.


After all, is said and done, there is no ignoring the fact that there are some pretty shady online shopping sites out there. You, therefore, cannot afford to go in blind as you do your last minute Christmas shopping. With all the information provided above, you should be able to not spot these perps from a mile away in order to protect yourself. That way whether you are shopping for decorations or rare gifts you will not end up wandering off into the wrong platforms.

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