It’s the Most Scam-Ridden Time of the Year

This is not a commentary on the holiday season, rather a teaching moment for phishing. During the holidays, people turn to online shopping for incredible deals and the convenience of shopping without crowds. Unfortunately, it’s also a time when people may be more vulnerable to certain phishing scams.

Keep the following scenarios in mind this holiday season:

Scenario 1: An incredible coupon deal or discount offer.
Scenario 2: A tracking link with a shipping notification.
Scenario 3: A fulfillment problem for an online order.

The first scenario could be a ‘too good to be true’ scam.  Here’s how to avoid falling prey:

Before clicking the link (be it from an e-mail or social media message), closely examine the URL. Is it really the retailer’s website? If you’re having trouble verifying its legitimacy or have already clicked the link, study the website. Red flags for scams:

  • A prompt to download something (software, plugin, etc.)
  • A request for more information than seems necessary (e.g. home address, social security number, credit card).

Do not accept requirements to update or download any software or plugins. Do not input personal information to the website. When in doubt, ask for a second opinion from the tech guru in your life! You can also research a retailer’s special offers using your favorite search engine or contact the retailer directly.


The second and third scenarios are based on the chance that you have been shopping cyber deals recently. These scammers hope you are expecting correspondence from your favorite retailers regarding order status. To avoid falling victim to these e-mail scams, NEVER use the links in these types of e-mails. Use your browser to login to online retailer accounts and check your order history to get tracking links or other notifications.

If you do receive a suspicious e-mail that purports to be a particular retailer, notify their anti-phishing or fraud department.

Good luck this holiday season and stay safe online!

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