When you visit our website, we may send you a cookie. To learn more, please refer to our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use our website, you agree to this.
By continuing, you agree to our Cookie Policy.
Home > Blog > How to spot a scam when shopping online this holiday season
Dec 4, 2018
How to spot a scam when shopping online this holiday season

special_offerRather than standing in long lines this holiday season, millions of Britons will be going online to make some of their holiday purchases. According to Forrester Research, nearly 90 per cent of consumers will shop online this holiday season, turning the Internet into a virtual winter wonderland not only for shoppers, but for hackers as well, who are more than ready to swipe personal information and credit cards in order to defraud unsuspecting shoppers and steal their identities.

From fishing and “vishing” scams to fake ads, phony offers, and malicious links, hackers will be pulling out all the stops. Here are some ways to keep from becoming a victim of such scams while hunting for online bargains this holiday season.

Make Sure You Shop at a Real Site

Scammers are known to target users through social media and email fishing scams. These scams involve fake sites with popups or messages with embedded links that encourage you to click them to receive “special deals” or verify your personal information from a courier or online seller.

These sites may seem strikingly similar to legitimate sites, such as Amazon. However, they are nothing more than traps meant to hijack your personal and financial information. A safe practice is to be wary of clicking on links when shopping online. Instead, type the name of a legitimate company into your Web browser and access the site directly. Also, avoid entering your personal information into popup screens, because these are a popular way for thieves to steal your personal information.

Avoid the Dangers of E-Cards

In addition to an increasing number of UK residents turning to the Internet for their holiday shopping, a growing number of people are also sending e-cards to friends, families, and everyone on their list. Although e-cards are a fun way to spread the holiday cheer, they can also be dangerous if you do not know who the sender is or have never heard of the company producing the cards. If you click a link in an illegitimate e-card, you may download malware or a virus on your computer.

The Greeting Card Association states that when someone sends a legitimate e-card, you will receive a notification that contains the sender’s personal e-mail address or full name, and you will never be asked to provide your personal or financial information. Whenever you are unsure about the legitimacy of an e-card, do not click on the link and delete it from your inbox as soon as possible.

Beware of Fake Charities

Cyber criminals know that the holiday season is a popular time for charitable donations, so you need to make sure your money is going to a needy charity and not into a scammer’s pocket. Fake charities often choose names that are very similar to the names of legitimate charities. If you are unsure whether or not a charity is real, always research and do your due diligence. A legitimate charity will have their contact information available via a public search. There are other sources as well where you can view a list of officially registered charities.

Be on the Lookout for Social Media Scams

Social media may be a terrific way to communicate with friends and family this holiday season, but you should be wary of fake contests and promotions or people pretending to be family members or friends asking you to send them money for the holidays. Like any other activities online, it is important to always remember not to give your personal or financial information to anyone, especially on social media sites. Also, never publicly state that you will not be home for the holidays, because you never know who may see this information and use it to their advantage.

Only Shop at Secure Sites

When paying for an online purchase, verify that you are entering your payment details on a secure site with 128-bit SSL encryption. Web addresses of secure sites will start with https://, and most will a have a padlock next to the address as well. By clicking on the padlock next to the URL, you can also verify the identity of the owner of the security certificate.

Watch Out for Deals That are Too Good to be True

Every holiday season, some gift cards and goods become hot commodities, and cybercriminals are eager to exploit consumers who would stop at nothing to get their hands on them. For instance, a well-known Facebook scam in the United States involves the promotion of a $1,000 Wal-Mart gift card. However, consumers are re-routed to a legitimate-looking website where they are required to purchase subscriptions or products and participate in promotions, all of which are nothing more than ploys to steal personal and financial information. So, avoid these scams by sticking to legitimate retailers and remembering if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Bottom Line

The holiday season often brings an increase in scams and security threats. By following these tips and taking the proper precautions, you will significantly decrease the likelihood of falling victim to these scams and have a safe and happy holiday season.

Leave your thoughts   |   CATEGORIES:   
Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲