Holiday Shopping Online Securely

The Christmas season is approaching fast. Millions of people will soon be searching for the ideal gifts, and many of us will do our shopping online. But, unfortunately, cybercriminals will also be active, setting up phony internet stores and other online shopping frauds to take your data or money. Here are some things you should watch out for when shopping online this holiday season.

Don’t Find Yourself on Fake Online Stores

This time of year, we often see the names of popular stores or brands used by criminals to create fake internet storefronts that resemble the appearance of legitimate websites. Unfortunately, you may find yourself on one of these phony websites when looking for the best online sales. If you then buy from these websites, you might receive counterfeit or stolen products, or your orders might never arrive. Here are some things you can do to safeguard yourself:

  • Always buy from online retailers you already know, trust, and have done business with.
  • Be skeptical of search engine or social media advertisements or promotions that are significantly cheaper than those you see at reputable online retailers. A bargain might be a fraud if it seems too good to be true.
  • Watch out for websites that utilize personal email addresses, have outdated contact forms, or have no means to contact them.
  • If a website resembles the one you’ve used in the past but has a different domain name or store name, be wary. For example, you might find yourself on a malicious site that appears similar to the one you are used to shopping at, such as instead of 
  • To find out what other people have said about an online store, enter its name or website address into a search engine. Such words as “fraud,” “scam,” “never again,” and “fake” should be checked for.
  • Always use a different, strong password for each of your online accounts to protect them. If you don’t know all of your passwords, consider using a password manager to store them all.

Watch for Scammers on Legitimate Websites

Even while shopping at reputable websites, be cautious. Online retailers frequently sell products sold by third parties or different companies that may have fraudulent intentions. 

  • Before placing the order, read the reviews of each seller to determine their reputation.
  • Watch out for sellers who are new to the online marketplace, have no ratings, or offer unusually low pricing for their products.
  • When in doubt, buy products that are sold directly by the online shop rather than those that are sold by independent contractors on its marketplace.
  • Be sure you understand the seller’s warranty and return policies before making your purchase, even from reputable sellers.

Beware of Phishing Attempts

Be cautious when clicking any links in an email that appears to be from a store you are familiar with, your bank, or your credit card company. Credit card and bank corporations never email customers requesting account or personal information updates. Additionally, some online merchants give customers the option of “live” talking with a customer support agent, although the pop-up window itself might be hacked. Never use a live chat to place an order, enter your account number, or submit any other sensitive information.

Review Online Payments for Purchases

Review your credit card bills frequently to spot incorrect transactions. If possible, turn on the option to receive email, text, or app notifications whenever a charge is made. Report any unusual activity right away to your credit card company. Pay online with credit cards rather than debit cards. Debit cards withdraw money straight from your bank account, making it considerably more difficult to recover your money in the event of fraud. A safer option for online purchases is to use electronic payment services or e-wallets, like PayPal, which do not require you to give the merchant your credit card information. Avoid websites that only accept cryptocurrency payments or ask for unusual payment methods.

Cybersecurity should always be a top priority, especially during the busy holiday season. If something seems way too good to be true, it probably is. Our Grand Technology Solutions team can help you improve your cybersecurity awareness and give you the tools and strategies you’ll need to defend your personal information and organization against online threats any time of year. Contact us today at (904) 606-6011 or email to learn more.


Paul May