How to avoid being a victim to scams this holiday season

By Shan Balasuriya Posted Date: 2015-12-24

Avoid Becoming Victim to Holiday Scams

The Christmas and New Year holiday season is the busiest time for retail with millions of people around the globe rushing to buy gifts for their loved ones. Each year the sales figures for online retail keep hitting record new highs especially during this season. While online retailers find new ways to improve sales through marketing and e-commerce there are as many cyber criminals looking for ways they can scam and profit from the increased rush to buy. Knowing how to identify scams and threats is a great start to protecting yourself online. In todays post we look at some tips that can help prevent you from being an unsuspecting victim of scam and fraud:

  • Too good to be true discount coupons: Good deals can be tempting but can sometimes turn out to be a bad loss. It’s important to keep an eye out for offers that may be too good to be true. Don’t trust websites that may be offering outrageously low prices or unrealistically quick delivery times, do further research into the website and look for signs that it may be fake. Sometimes stolen customer data from genuine retailers can be used to specifically target you by sending emails with offers that might relate to a recent purchase. Some ways you can identify fake emails or offers is to check the senders email address (the actual email address itself and not the name shown in its place). Also check to see if the message contains any mistakes such as typos or bad grammar. Never follow links embedded in email messages.
  • No one ever randomly wins anything for free: Sometimes you may get an email or message saying that you’ve just one an incredible prize and to get your prize you have to sign up – this is most likely a phishing scam trying to obtain your personal info. The only time people ever win things is if they’ve entered into a raffle draw or some kind of competition/game, no one ever randomly wins something without participating, so be weary of random emails that want you to fill out some form with personal information or account details so you can ‘claim you prize’.
  • Suspicious Emails: Never open any emails from unknown addresses with subject titles designed to attract you to click (most likely displaying an offer). You should be especially careful if the email or message contains attachments as these can be malware that will install itself on your PC without you even realizing.
  • Do your shopping on secure connections only: Never enter card details and purchase items from a website that doesn’t have https in front of it. The https or secure connection means that data is encrypted and is better than an unsecure standard connection.
  • Be aware if the online store asks for unconventional payment methods: Most online retailers will accept PayPal or at the very least credit card. If the online store you’re shopping on is requesting that you pay by bank transfer or money order then be extra careful.
  • Never ever give out card or account information: Sometimes if you purchase on a website and later you receive a call or message requesting for your card or account information in order to complete a payment be very careful. Most likely it is a scammer posing as a representative of a legitimate company in order to obtain your credit card information. Don’t ever give your card details over the phone unless you can verify the authenticity of the phone number and person on the other end.

Following the above tips can help protect you from being a victim to scams and help you stay safe while utilizing the convenience of online shopping.