Holiday Scam Statistics 2024: Keep Your Information Safe This Holiday Season

Staying vigilant and avoiding holiday scams online can take work, but it's worth the effort to keep your data safe.
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From gift giving to ordering food for holiday feasts, the convenience of shopping online can be a lifesaver during the holidays. However, online scams are always present even if you’re savvy at spotting scam attempts.

We’ll look at some key holiday scam statistics to see how thieves target their victims during the holidays and to help you and your loved ones stay safe while shopping online.

Key findings

  • In 2022, Black Friday was the most popular day for fraud attempts in the U.S.
  • Consumers reported losing nearly $8.8 billion to scams in 2022, an increase of more than 30% over 2021.
  • In 2022, $1,510 was the average amount that U.S. consumers lost to scammers.
  • 15% of consumers say they’ve experienced fraud when booking travel.
  • One in four people has given or received a gift card with no balance.

1. Black Friday is the most popular day for fraud attempts

In a 2022 analysis of e-commerce transactions, TransUnion found that the most popular day for attempted online fraud was Black Friday, or November 25, in both the U.S. and Canada. In the United Kingdom, however, the most popular day for attempted online fraud in 2022 was Cyber Monday, November 28.

Globally, between November 24 (U.S. Thanksgiving) and November 28 (Cyber Monday), the most prevalent fraud attempts in 2022 were promotion abuse, where users tried to scam refer-a-friend or free giveaways, and account takeovers. During November 24-28, 2022, there was a 127% increase in the daily volume of fraud attempts in the U.S. compared to January 1-November 23, 2022.

Source: TransUnion Fraud Trends 2022

2. 34% of U.S. adults take more risks online during the holidays

According to 2022 findings by Norton, about one in three adults (34%) in the U.S. say they tend to take more risks with online shopping closer to the holidays. Globally, that number was 32%.

Of those who admitted to risky behavior, 22% of global respondents admitted risking their personal data by posting a picture of their travel destination. 18% said they tagged their current location on social media, and 17% said they posted a picture of an expensive gift they received. Additionally, 14% of respondents said they were guilty of revealing travel plans on social media, and 12% said they posted pictures of a plane, train, or bus ticket without removing or obscuring personal information. 41% of Americans say they’ve done at least one of these risky behaviors.

Source: Norton 2022 Cyber Safety Insights Report

3. The majority of consumers have experienced fraud

According to a 2022 study by AARP, 76%, or roughly three out of four U.S. adults over 18, have been targeted by at least one form of fraud. Of the respondents, 39% received a request from a charity that felt fake or fraudulent. 35% experienced fraud while buying a product through an online ad, and 29% received a phony notification about a fake shipment issue. An additional 27% of respondents had a package stolen, and 12% experienced fraud when booking travel.

41% of respondents said they believed the ads they saw on social media were safe or were unsure about an ad’s trustworthiness.

Source: AARP 2022 Survey

4. Young adults experience online fraud more often than older people

Four out of five young adults, or 81% of 18- to 34-year-olds who responded to AARP’s survey, reported that they had experienced at least one form of fraud. Comparatively, only 71% of people aged 35 to 44 and 78% of people aged 45 to 64 say they have been the victims of a scam. And only 69% of people over age 65 say they have been victims.

According to AARP, 55% of respondents between 18 and 34 said they had made a purchase through a social media ad in the last year, while 48% of people aged 35 to 44 and 34% of people aged 45 to 64 said the same. Of those who used an online ad to buy something, 18- to 34-year-olds and 45- to 64-year-olds were most likely to experience fraud (38% each). Comparatively, 35- to 44-year-olds and those over 65 experienced the least fraud after clicking an online ad (31% and 28%, respectively).

Source: AARP 2022 Survey

5. 64% of consumers know that using a credit card keeps you safer online

AARP’s 2022 study found that a majority (64%) of the U.S. adults surveyed knew that using a credit card rather than a debit card was a safer option when making online purchases. 72% of respondents said they planned to use a credit card to make purchases, up from 67% in 2021. 68% said they planned to use cash (up from 67% in 2021), while 67% planned to use a debit card (down from 69% in 2021). Only 16% each planned to use personal or electronic checks (down from 17% in 2021 for electronic checks and up from 13% for personal checks).

According to the FBI, credit card fraud accounted for $264 million in losses in 2022, and non-payment and non-delivery scams cost an additional $281 million that year.

Source: AARP 2022 Survey, Federal Bureau of Investigation

6. 86% of U.S. shoppers will abandon a purchase if it appears fraudulent

According to the data gathered by Norton in 2022, 86% of U.S. consumers will leave a purchase if they notice the website seems fake. 85% will look at the ratings for an online seller before purchasing, and 79% of consumers won't buy if they’re on public or unsecured Wi-Fi. Additionally, 69% of U.S. shoppers will check a store’s social media presence to confirm its authenticity, and 75% will research an item online and then go to a physical store to purchase it.

However, 17% (or one in five) of U.S. adults admit they would willingly risk giving away personal information to get an in-demand toy or gift over the holidays.

Source: Norton 2022 Cyber Safety Insights Report, PR Newswire

7. Gift cards are popular but risky holiday purchases

The National Retail Federation says that 55% of holiday shoppers would like to receive a gift card in 2023. In 2022, 42% of respondents said they planned to buy the same number of gift cards as last year, 13% intended to buy more, and 12% said they would buy fewer.

Interestingly, nearly 14% of respondents said they had received a gift card with no funds, up from 11% in 2021. 8% of people in 2022 said they had given a card that turned out to have nothing on it, and 4% said they had both given and received a gift card with no funds.

While most people (58%) buy gift cards at a rack in a pharmacy or other retailer, a Consumer Reports study from 2019 found that scammers tended to target gift cards on store racks and online more than other ways of purchasing.

Source: National Retail Federation, AARP 2022 Survey, Consumer Reports

8. 32.75 million transactions were fraudulent in 2022

According to SEON Fraud Prevention, 32.75 million of the 851 million user transactions on the platform were declined as fraudulent (or 9.03%) from January 1-December 5, 2022.

According to SEON's platform metrics, 9.68% of transactions over the winter holidays were deemed suspicious overall. Online retailers were likely to see the most fraud attempts the week between Christmas and New Year, while SEON’s online gaming and gambling retailers saw a spike between December 10-17, 2022.

Between November 30, 2021, and January 6, 2022, SEON caught and declined 2,781,668 fraudulent Christmas transactions.

Source: SEON 2022/2023 Holiday Fraud Trends

9. Holiday charitable giving is a prime target for scammers

AARP’s November 2022 data shows that 82% (or four in five) of consumers received a request for a charitable donation in the previous 12 months, but 39% of those consumers reported the request seemed fake or fraudulent. About 20% said they make more charitable donations during the holidays than the rest of the year.

However, 51% of respondents say they don’t “always” research an organization or cause before donating. Older respondents are likely to be targeted by donation scammers, with 42% of people over 45 saying they were targeted, compared to 34% of those between 18 and 34.

Source: AARP 2022 Survey

10. One in four consumers have had packages stolen from their front porch

Porch piracy, or stealing packages after delivery, is more likely to happen in urban areas but can happen anywhere. 39% of people in dense urban areas report having packages stolen, while 33% in dense suburban areas and 27% in suburban areas have experienced the same. 25% of package thefts occurred in small towns, while only 16% were in rural areas.

According to Security.org, 17% of Americans have had a package stolen in the last three months, and 44% have had a package taken at some point. The average stolen package is worth about $50.

Source: AARP 2022 Survey, Security.org

11. Social media and investment scams rose in 2022

According to data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), $1.2 billion was reported lost to scammers in 2022 through social media and phone scams. Investment fraud had the highest reported losses, doubling from $1.8 billion in 2021 to $3.8 billion in 2022. Business imposter crimes also soared to $660 million in 2022, compared to $453 million in 2021. Overall, $8.8 billion was lost to scammers in 2022 compared to $6.1 billion in 2021.

According to the FBI, in 2022, investment scam complaints increased by 127% from 2021. Within those complaints, cryptocurrency investment fraud, including using hacked social media accounts, increased by 183% from 2021 to 2021.

Source: Federal Trade Commission, Federal Bureau of Investigation

12. Globally, 73% of shoppers are confident they shop safely

According to online security platform Norton, 73% of respondents say they’re confident about shopping safely online. From this percentage, 25% said they were very confident, while 48% said they were only somewhat confident. In the U.S., 24% (or about one in four) of respondents said they strongly or somewhat felt that they didn’t know how to shop safely online.

According to credit bureau TransUnion, in 2022, 60% of consumers said they had a favorable view of added identity verification measures online retailers use, a 20% increase from 2021.

Source: Norton 2023 Cyber Safety Insights Report, TransUnion

How to stay safe while holiday shopping

Avoiding scams during holiday shopping can be tricky, especially if you’re in a rush. To help you stay safe online while you hunt for the perfect holiday gifts, consider the following cybersecurity tips.

Practice good security hygiene

Phishing attacks can occur via email, social media, or websites, and they can be hard to spot if you don’t look carefully. Be sure to stop and think before you click on any links and be cautious about clicking ads you see on social media. Instead of clicking, try googling the product in a new window to see if it's legitimate.

Avoid requests to update your password or billing information

Many phishing attempts will ask you to update your password or billing information, even if you haven’t placed a recent order with a specific company. If you didn’t request a password reset link, delete the email immediately without clicking any links. If you recently placed an online order but think something looks suspicious, find the company’s phone number online and call them directly to verify.

Research who you’re buying from or selling to

If you’re purchasing from a company for the first time, be sure to do your research and read reviews. If you’re using an online marketplace, check the buyer or seller's feedback rating and avoid doing business with people with low ratings. Don’t send anyone money or products without verifying their credentials.

Use a credit card

Using a credit card online is an excellent way to help protect yourself from fraud. Most credit card companies offer a level of fraud protection and generally won't hold you liable for unauthorized charges as long as it’s reported promptly. If you see odd charges on your account, freeze the card as soon as possible and contact the card issuer to report the fraud and get the charges reversed.

Follow tracking information

Always check the tracking provided and follow the delivery process. To prevent porch piracy, consider holding your holiday packages at the post office or a UPS or FedEx retail location for safe pickup. Otherwise, try to be home to receive deliveries and create a secure spot on your porch for package drop off, preferably out of sight of the street and potential thieves.

Consider identity theft protection

If you discover fraudulent activity on your credit card or believe your identity was stolen, consider using a service to help monitor your information. Research the best identity theft protection services to help you make sure your information is safe while you shop online.

Bottom line

Thinking about scams and identity theft might steal some holiday cheer, but being smart now can help you avoid becoming a victim. Remember to use good security hygiene, don’t click on suspicious links, and use a credit card to help limit financial damage if thieves access your information.

Sources

1. Norton - 2023 Cyber Safety Insights Reports Global Results: Online Holiday Shopping

2. AARP - Preparing for the Holidays? So Are Criminals November 2022

3. TransUnion - Digital Holiday Fraud in 2022

4. SEON - Christmas Holiday Fraud Trends 2022/2023- Exclusive SEON Data

5. Federal Trade Commission - New FTC Data Show Consumers Reported Losing Nearly $8.8 Billion to Scams in 2022

6. Norton - 2022 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report: Special Release- Holiday

7. TransUnion - More Than Half of Consumers Concerned with Fraud This Holiday Season - A 17% Increase From Last Year

8. Consumer Reports - How to Avoid Gift Card Scams

9. National Retail Federation - Consumers to Spend Nearly $900 to Celebrate the Winter Holidays

10. Federal Bureau of Investigation - Holiday Scams

11. Federal Bureau of Investigation - Internet Crime Report 2022

12. Security.org - 2023 Package Theft Annual Statistics and Trends

13. PR Newswire - Online Holiday Shopping Frenzy: Study Shows 1 in 3 Americans Tend to Take More Risks When Shopping Online During Holiday Season

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Author Details
Kate Daugherty is a professional writer based in Denver, Colorado. She holds a B.A. from the University of Colorado and specializes in covering personal finance, digital security, and personal privacy topics. Her straightforward and thorough approach aims to empower readers by sharing insights and practical advice for enhancing both online safety and financial well-being.