The holidays are usually a busy time of year with lots of shopping and gift buying. It’s also a busy time for scammers. Here are some current holiday scams to watch out for so you and your loved ones don’t get duped.

5 active scams to keep on your radar this time of year

With information from the Better Business Bureau, here are some holiday scams to be wise to and tell your friends about.

1. Social media gift exchanges. See something on social media saying you will receive 36 gifts in exchange for sending one gift valued at $10? You may be asked invite others to participate in the exchange, where they will receive information on where to mail gifts. Be careful – if you are promised something that is worth more than what you’re expected to pay, it may be a pyramid scheme (they are illegal in Canada). You also may be asked to provide personal information, such as your home address. It is important you only share this information with people you trust. Learn more about the risks of the “Secret Sister” gift exchange

2. Free gift cards. Get an email asking you share personal information to receive a free gift card? It could be a scammer impersonating a legitimate business. Remember not to share personal information to receive a gift card. If you think there’s a chance it’s a legitimate offer, contact the business by visiting their website directly (not through the email). Learn what the rules are when it comes to legitimate gift card expiry dates in BC.

  • Tip: If a legitimate gift card is issued as a promotion (buy a $100 gift card and get a $25 gift card for free), the promotional or free gift card is allowed to expire, so remember to check the expiry date!

3. Charity scams. The holiday season is usually an important and busy time for legitimate organizations who are looking to raise money for those in need. Unfortunately, it also means an increase in donation requests from scammers. Learn the top 10 red flags to look for when you are considering donating to a charity this year.

4. Fake shipping notifications. If you get a shipping notification that doesn’t seem to have any identifying information on it and it’s asking for additional personal information, it could be a scam. Make sure you remember what you have ordered and use the tracking information you were provided when it was purchased. Don’t click links from emails you’re not sure about. You shouldn’t be asked to provide new information later on or pay any additional charges.

5. Puppy scams. Scammers are known to pose as breeders online and may ask you to wire money for a puppy that doesn’t exist. Do your research and talk to friends and family for recommendations if you are looking to adopt a dog. Make sure you get your dogs from legitimate shelters or breeders and never wire money for a dog that you haven’t met yet.

Did we miss anything? What are some holiday scams you want others to know about?

Did you like this? You might like these posts too!

How to avoid “porch pirate” theft
5 tips for safe online shopping this holiday season
The 10 red flags of charity scams
Be careful with the “Secret Sister” gift exchange
5 things to be mindful of this holiday season

About Consumer Protection BC:

We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at