Holiday Shopping Scams

The Holiday season is once again upon us. With the holidays comes two certainties. First is the argument over whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie (it is), and second is cybercriminals attempting to steal from frugal shoppers looking for a deal. Here are some tips and tricks to avoid getting taken when shopping for holiday bargains.

Be cautious of social media or email deals. Under the current conditions, the bulk of “Black Friday” shopping will occur online. Email boxes and Facebook pages will explode with offers and discounts from suspicious sources. Be careful following links on social media or embedded in an email – be extra cautious if the offer is from a merchant or store never shopped at in the past.

If the deal seems crazy – it is likely bogus. An Xbox or a PlayStation for $39 – what a deal! Everyone likes to feel like they’ve gotten the bargain of a lifetime, and each Holiday season, shoppers’ desire to bag a fantastic price leads them to websites with crazy deals. Unfortunately, often the only gift is to the cybercriminals who get shoppers’ credit card numbers. Remember, if a price is ridiculously low, it’s a trick.

Use different and complex passwords for each online merchant. Hackers will be out in force, trying to snag shoppers’ passwords. Shoppers who use the same password at multiple sites make fraud much easier for the criminal. Use a different complex password of at least 8 to 12 characters using lower-case and capital letters, with numbers and symbols (!#$_). Using a password manager makes keeping track of multiple passwords much simpler.

Monitor Credit Card and Banking accounts. Sadly, even the most cautious shoppers fall victim to fraud occasionally. Make a point to login to credit card and banking accounts to monitor for fraudulent transactions. Early detection of a bogus transaction can save holiday plans and finances. And remember to use complex and different passwords for each financial account as well.

Author: Bill Green