Our Parents
Senior Health
Senior Living Options
Finances & Legal
Products for Seniors
About Us
A brown banner with the OurParents logo

Seniors Should Be Wary of Online Holiday Scams

Written by OurParents Staff
 about the author
2 minute readLast updated April 21, 2023

Unfortunately, seniors can be vulnerable to online scams, especially during the holidays when scams targeting seniors are fairly common. Learn more about online holiday scams and how seniors can avoid them this season.

Let our care assessment guide you

Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.

How online holiday scams target seniors

During the holiday season, the Better Business Bureau consistently warns consumers to be wary of online scams — particularly those directed at seniors:
Scams targeting senior loved ones over the holidays can include:
  1. E-cards. Recently, electronic cards have been used to try to obtain additional information from victims. When you receive an e-card, be sure the sender’s name is apparent and that you recognize the sender before opening or filling out any other information.
  2. Emergency scams. Be cautious if you get a call or email from a distant family member or friend claiming to have an emergency while traveling outside the country. Never send money in this situation, unless you can confirm with another family member or friend that the emergency is true.
  3. Fake shipping notifications. Recently, fake attachments or links to sites with malware have been attaching to shipping notifications. This malware then attaches to your computer and attempts to steal identities and passwords from victims.
  4. Letters from Santa. Several companies offer personalized letters from Santa, but there are also scammers who mimic these websites to obtain personal information from parents and grandparents. You can visit the Better Business Bureau’s website to find out which companies offer legitimate letters.
  5. Look-alike websites. Recently, scammers have been taking advantage of consumers and senior shoppers online, copying well-known company and store websites and only slightly changing the URL. Use only legitimate websites and double-check URLs when shopping online.
  6. Online shopping. With the rise of chip card readers, in-store fraud is down, so scammers have primarily moved online. Use a credit instead of a debit card when shopping online to deter fraud.
  7. Phony charities. Recently, there has been a rise in false charity solicitations through email, social media, and texts to seniors. Visit charities at give.org to confirm their authenticity before donating.
  8. Social media gift exchange. This holiday exchange, like most others, sounds like a deal, but it’s really a variation on an illegal pyramid scheme. Try to be wary of any social media gift exchange.
  9. Temporary holiday jobs. Recently, scammers have been soliciting as retailers that need additional help during the holidays, but beware. The retailer’s store or website is the best place to find out who is truly hiring.
  10. Unusual forms of payment. Recently, there has been a rise in scammers trying to use holiday purchases to obtain debit and gift card payments that cannot be traced or undone. Try not to fall for this ploy that will allow scammers to use your information for identity theft.

Let our care assessment guide you

Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.

Tips to avoid becoming a victim

Here are a few tips to stop seniors from becoming online victims over the holiday season:
  • Never give out personal information online or over the phone
  • Never wire money to someone you don’t know
  • Watch out for offers that are too good to be true
To learn more about online holiday scams or to report one that has affected a senior loved one, visit the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker.

Talk with a Senior Care Advisor

Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.


Meet the Author
OurParents Staff

The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom (of which OurParents is a trademark) and the reader.  Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site.  Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not recommend or endorse the contents of the third-party sites.