Top 5 Cyber Security Christmas Scams (and How to Avoid Them)

Top 5 Cyber Security Christmas Scams (and How to Avoid Them)

December 1, 2023

Ollie Rayburn


‘Tis the season for joy, merriment, and, unfortunately, a heightened risk of cyber scams. While we’re busy decking the halls, cyber grinches are lurking in the digital shadows, ready to exploit the holiday spirit. Fear not! In this comprehensive guide, we’ll unwrap the top 5 cyber security Christmas scams, arming you with the knowledge to protect yourself and your organisation from these digital scrooges. 

Fake Delivery Emails: The Grinch Who Stole Information 

The anticipation of receiving holiday packages often overshadows the potential danger lurking in our inboxes. Cybercriminals capitalise on this excitement by sending convincing fake delivery parcel emails, complete with logos and tracking details. Clicking on malicious links or downloading attachments in these emails can lead to the installation of malware or the disclosure of sensitive information. 

Fake parcel delivery emails often employ urgency tactics, claiming delayed shipments or impending delivery issues. Remember to stay calm and verify the information through official channels, before acting. 

How to Avoid Fake Delivery Email Scams: 

  • Verify Sender: Scrutinise the sender’s email address for authenticity. Legitimate delivery notifications typically come from well-known carriers, and any deviation should raise suspicion. 
  • Track Shipments Directly: Instead of relying on email links, use official tracking websites provided by the shipping company. 
  • Educate Employees: Raise awareness within your organisation about the risks associated with fake delivery emails, encouraging prompt reporting of any suspicious correspondence.

Christmas eCards: Season’s Greetings or Cyber Threat? 

Sending and receiving eCards is a delightful holiday tradition, but cyber criminals leverage this by crafting malicious eCards embedded with malware. These seemingly innocent digital greetings can compromise personal and business networks, leading to data breaches or ransomware attacks. Some cyber criminals use personalised information in eCards to create a sense of familiarity. To stay safe, do not to share personal details online and to report any suspicious eCards promptly. 

How to Avoid Christmas eCard Scams: 

  • Be Sceptical: Exercise caution when receiving eCards from unknown senders. Verify the legitimacy of the sender before opening the card. 
  • Use Security Software: Ensure that your organisation’s antivirus and anti-malware software are up to date to detect and block potential threats. 
  • Employee Training: Train staff to recognise the signs of Christmas phishing scams in eCards, such as unexpected senders or suspicious-looking links.

Too Good to Be True Seasonal Offers: Unwrapping the Allure of Christmas Miracles with Caution 

The holiday shopping frenzy, known for creating a perfect storm, becomes an ideal playground for cyber criminals to orchestrate Christmas shopping scams, enticing victims with unbelievable offers. These deceptive tactics often involve remarkably low prices on popular items or exclusive deals, luring individuals into willingly providing personal or financial information. To stay a step ahead, be cautious of potential Christmas shopping scams on social media platforms. It’s crucial to cross-verify any deals found on social media with the official website before making any purchases. Stay vigilant and protect yourself from the pitfalls of festive online shopping. 

How to Avoid Christmas Shopping Scams: 

  • Research Retailers: Investigate the credibility of online stores before making a purchase. Check for reviews and ensure the website has secure payment options. 
  • Use Credit, Not Debit: Opt for credit cards instead of debit cards when shopping online, as credit cards offer additional layers of fraud protection. 
  • Beware of Urgency: Scammers often create a sense of urgency to pressure individuals into making impulsive decisions. Take your time and think before providing any personal information. 

Gift Card Survey Scams: The Trojan Horse of Gift-Giving 

Gift cards are a popular and convenient choice during the Christmas season, making them a prime target for cybercriminals. Scammers often send emails or messages asking individuals to participate in surveys in exchange for a free gift card. However, the real gift is the personal information harvested during the process. 

Remain cautious with surveys offering incentives. Legitimate organisations seldom ask for personal information in exchange for a gift card. Any such requests should be treated with suspicion. 

How to Avoid Gift Card Survey Scams: 

  • Verify Requests: Exercise caution with unsolicited survey requests, especially those promising a reward. Verify the legitimacy of the request with the supposed sender. 
  • Check URLs: Hover over any links in survey emails to preview the URL. If it looks suspicious, do not click on it. 
  • Employee Training: Ensure that employees know the risks associated with gift card survey scams and emphasise the importance of reporting any suspicious activity. 


Charity Phishing Scam: Donating to the Wrong Recipients

The holiday season encourages generosity, and cyber criminals exploit this goodwill by creating fake charity websites or sending phishing emails pretending to represent well-known charitable organisations. Individuals unknowingly provide sensitive information or make donations that end up lining the pockets of scammers rather than supporting a worthy cause. 

How to Avoid Charity Phishing Scams: 

  • Verify Charity Authenticity: Before making any donations, verify the legitimacy of the charity through official websites or trusted sources. 
  • Use Secure Payment Methods: When making online donations, use secure payment methods to protect your financial information. Raise Awareness: Educate employees about the prevalence of charity phishing scams and encourage them to verify the legitimacy of any charitable requests they receive.

How to Avoid Scams: Arming Yourself Against Cyber Grinches 

As we navigate through the holiday season, ensuring your awareness and fortifying your cyber defences is paramount. Safeguarding your online presence this Christmas involves a variety of proactive steps. Consider the following top Christmas cyber security tips: 

Exercise Caution with Links and Attachments  

Just as you wouldn’t open a mysterious gift from an unknown sender, avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from unfamiliar sources in your digital world. These could be cyber traps waiting to compromise your data or introduce malware into your system. Cybercriminals often disguise malicious links in holiday-themed emails, playing on the excitement of the season. Stay vigilant and only interact with trusted sources. 

Verify Website Security  

Ensure that the website is secure before providing any personal or financial information online. Look for “https://“ in the URL and a padlock icon in the address bar. This ensures that your data is encrypted and protected from prying eyes. Be particularly cautious when entering payment details on online shopping websites. Confirm the legitimacy of the site to avoid falling victim to fake e-commerce platforms. 

Mind the Details in Email Addresses  

Pay close attention to the spelling and authenticity of email addresses. If you detect any inconsistencies or deviations from the norm, hit the delete button promptly. Cybercriminals often use slight variations to trick recipients into believing the email is from a legitimate source. Cyber attackers may employ tactics like misspelling well-known domain names to deceive individuals. Scrutinise email addresses, and when in doubt, verify the sender’s legitimacy through other means. 

Beware of Poor Grammar and Formatting  

Ignore and delete emails with poor grammar and formatting. Cybercriminals often rush their phishing attempts, resulting in sloppy writing. Legitimate organisations maintain a level of professionalism in their communications. Poor grammar can be a red flag but also be cautious of overly formal or robotic language. Cybercriminals adapt their tactics, so trust your instincts when something seems off. 

Handle Urgent Emails with Caution 

If an email adopts a threatening or overly urgent tone, resist the impulse to respond immediately. Cybercriminals use urgency as a psychological tactic to pressure victims into taking hasty actions that could compromise their security. Legitimate organisations rarely communicate urgent matters via email. Verify the legitimacy of the message through other channels before taking any action. 

Enable Email Spam Filters 

Take proactive measures by enabling a spam filter on your email account. This acts as a virtual defence wall, filtering out potentially malicious emails and reducing the risk of falling victim to phishing attempts.  Some advanced phishing attempts may still evade standard spam filters. Always exercise caution and remember, if in doubt, hit delete! 

Regularly Back Up Your Data 

Protect your valuable data by implementing a regular backup routine. In the unfortunate event of a cyber-attack or data loss, having a recent backup ensures that you can recover your information without succumbing to the demands of cybercriminals. Consider utilising both local and cloud-based backup solutions for comprehensive data protection. Test your backup systems periodically to ensure their effectiveness. 

Install Up-to-Date Anti-Virus Software  

Arm your devices with the latest antivirus software to detect and neutralise potential threats. Regular updates ensure that your defence mechanisms are equipped to handle evolving cyber threats. Schedule automatic updates for your antivirus software to guarantee continuous protection against the latest malware and cyber threats. 

Utilise Strong Passwords 

Strengthen your digital defences by using robust passwords, which are at least 12 characters long, especially for email and social media accounts. A complex password makes it significantly more challenging for cybercriminals to gain unauthorised access to your accounts; consider using a passphrase, combining uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Regularly update passwords and avoid using easily guessable information, such as birthdays or common words. 


As we revel in the Christmas festivities, it’s imperative to be aware of the digital dangers lurking beneath the tinsel and ornaments. By staying informed, exercising caution, and implementing robust cyber security measures, businesses and individuals can ensure that the only surprises this season are the ones waiting under the Christmas tree. Wishing you a cyber-safe and joyful holiday season! 

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