Holiday Shopping Online? Watch Out for These Red Flags

Holiday Online Shopping - Red Flags
Network Center, Inc.

Online shopping has simply become a way of life these days. Get whatever you want, whenever you want, without wandering from store to store. The Holiday season is a busy time of year for most, so the ability to check off your shopping checklist from the comfort of your couch and have the stuff delivered to your doorstep can be a lifesaver. You get great deals, some are better than in-store specials.

The catch? Cybercriminals love the concept of online shopping as much as you do. They are exploiting the growing popularity of online shopping to cheat unsuspecting buyers through techniques such as phishing, malware injection, etc. Here are a few tips that may work to keep you safe from becoming a target of cybercrime this Holiday season. 

How to determine if the ad or shopping site is genuine?

As you browse the web, you will come across various ads targeted at your interests. Businesses engage in ‘Retargeting’ which means they use cookies to target you with very specific ads until you buy something. For example, look at a wallet and you will see ads for wallets magically start showing up on every site you're on. Are those ads genuine? Before clicking on any ad you see online and making a purchase, be sure to verify if the ad is genuine. The same goes for shopping sites. Before you shop, you need to ensure the site is safe, especially since you will be sharing your credit card details or Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as your address. Here are a few things to check before you make that online purchase

Grammar 

Keep an eye out for grammatical errors or spelling mistakes in the ad. Fake ads and sites may look a lot like the actual ones, but spelling mistakes or grammar errors may tell the true story. Scammers don’t have content writers to write great sales content!

Check the URL 

When at a shopping site, always check the URL in the address bar to ensure it is genuine. For example, if you see www.1amazon.com or www.amazon-usa.com, you should know it is not the same as www.amazon.com. Checking the URL also lets you detect website cloning and phishing. Website cloning is one of the most popular methods used by scammers to fleece consumers. As the term suggests, the cybercriminal first creates a ‘clone’ site that looks exactly like the original one, barring a very minor change in the URL.

Don’t get phished!

Phishing is when you receive a message, usually through an email or a text message asking you to take an action such as clicking on a link, filling out a form, logging into an account, etc., Such messages look as though they are genuine. But, the form fill, account login, or link will take you to a spurious site where your information will be captured for bad use. Checking the URL will help you detect phishing frauds as well.

Check before you download anything

Sometimes you may receive a link and asked to download a coupon or a gift card that entitles you to a sizable discount. It may be a fraud. In fact, it probably is.

Download only from legitimate marketplaces

With so many shopping options it is tempting to download every new app that you come across. But, only download from authorized marketplaces like Google Play Store for Android or the App Store for iOs.

At the end of the day, remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.