Holiday Shopping Scams

If your personal inbox looks anything like ours, the holiday deals are already rolling in. We know that online holiday shopping has taken a bigger share of the market each year and this year, due to the pandemic, we are likely to see more online purchases than ever. Before the clicking and buying frenzy begins, take a moment to review our tips for a safer shopping experience.

Think Before You Click

Your inbox will be filled with emails touting Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals in the next several weeks. Often these emails will use phrases like, “Limited time only” or “While supplies last.” You may feel like you don’t want to miss out. These marketing techniques work in a similar way to phishing techniques – they aim to get you to click and/or buy quickly.

If you’re interested in learning more about a deal from an email, take the time to evaluate it carefully before clicking. Check the sender email address and hover over any links before clicking to see where they will take you. Or bypass the link altogether- go to a separate browser window and do a web search for the store and the product. If you can’t find the item, call the store (again, find contact information on the official website, not the email) and verify the deal.

Use Safe Payments and Look for the Lock

You’ve found a deal, and you’re ready to make a purchase. When paying online, a protected payment method such as a credit card, PayPal, Apple Pay/Samsung Pay, or Google Pay are safer options. These methods typically offer buyer protection and early fraud warnings. Avoid paying with a debit card because if your information is stolen, your bank accounts can be drained immediately. Additionally, beware of sites or apps that only accept money orders, wire transfers, or checks – it’s likely a scam.

If you choose to use a payment card, check the web address bar for “HTTPS” at the beginning of the web address or the padlock next to the web address before entering payment card information. The lock indicates that transmissions on the website are encrypted and cannot be seen by third parties. However, it does NOT mean that you are communicating with an authentic website. Always double-check the web address and keep in mind that cyber criminals may attempt to trick you with a similar domain.

Post Purchase Alerts

Soon shipping and delivery alerts will begin arriving in your inbox. If you got all of your holiday shopping done over Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there may be quite a few notifications. You might expect confirmation of purchase emails, followed by shipping or delivery alerts. You may not be surprised to see a delivery delay email either. Scammers capitalize on these types of notifications and will send phishing emails like this during the holiday shopping season. To stay safe, follow the email evaluation steps we mentioned above.

Stay alert and happy deal-hunting this holiday season!

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