Holiday Shopping Scams to Watch For!

Question

What scams should I watch for this holiday shopping season?

Answer

This question was answered on November 18, 2015. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Image courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/23905174@N00The predictions for the 2015 holiday shopping season continue to suggest that we’ll see record spending when it comes to online shopping.

This isn’t lost on cybercriminals as they gear up to take advantage of the additional online traffic as well.

The sophistication level of the holiday scams continue to rise, making it very important that you play close attention if you’re one of the millions that will be making purchases online.

The typical advice of making sure you’re on a secured site (https://) certainly holds true, but most browsers will automatically load secure pages when they are available these days.

Making sure your computer is free of malware before engaging in purchases is also a good idea to avoid being victimized by key loggers that can silently record everything you’re typing.

The most common attempts to compromise you this year will likely come from phishing scams, fake charity websites, fake online retailers and credit card or gift card scams.

Expect to see a lot of fake shipping scams that pose as e-mail updates from shipping companies like UPS and FedEx, since we’re all likely to receive deliveries from them.

Whenever you make an online purchase, a tracking number is generally included with your online receipt.  The only way you should ever track a package is by manually going to the shipper’s website and typing in your tracking number.

Any e-mail that appears to be from any delivery company should always be viewed with great suspicion, especially if they have an attachment included.

The holiday season is a charitable season, so expect to see lots of appeals via e-mail and social media for contributions.  Before donating to any charity you’re not familiar with, use sights like https://Give.org or http://www.charitynavigator.org to make sure they’re legit.

Another thing to watch for, especially as time gets short for finding those popular gift items are fake online retailers.  They will create very legitimate looking sites that offer great last minute deals on those hard to get items; they prey on your desperation.

Many of these sites may even appear in Google ads and search results, but if you make the online purchase, you’ll never see the item sent.  If you can’t find any physical addresses or phone numbers on a sight, you probably shouldn’t do business with them.

Reputation add-ons to your browser from sites like Web Of Trust (https://www.mywot.com) can help you quickly identify sights that are questionable.

Offers for ‘incredible deals’ on both credit cards and gift cards are another thing you can count on seeing, especially on social media.

Many of your friends Facebook accounts could be compromised during the shopping season leading to ‘OMG, what a great deal’ type posts that need to always be viewed with skepticism.

For maximum protection, avoid using your debit card for any online purchases, just in case you become a victim of fraud.  Debit cards offer the same protection, but having an empty bank account while the bank straightens things out will lead to bounced car, mortgage or rent payments.

(Image courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected])

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Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on November 18, 2015