Holiday Shopping Primer & Online Scams

‘Tis about to be the season for holiday online scams. Whatever your holiday traditions, the experts advise us all to be a little wary online this time of year. Below are some easy tips to stay safe.


  • Don’t trust your holiday shopping to mobile apps – Shop on your desktop/laptop whenever you can. Yes, mobile apps are so convenient. But fake shopping ads are hard to spot on your phone. It is much easier to use a larger screen to check for https and any tips that a deal might be a fake. And – your desktop/laptop has much more security than your phone. Check out the deal on your mobile app, but take the next step – go to the website to make the purchase.
  • Never ever shop on public Wi-Fi – Public Wi-Fi makes it easy for an attacker to perform a man-in-the-middle attack on you, leading to theft of login credentials, credit card details, and other personal information. Browse if you want to, but wait until you are on a secure network to make the purchase.
  • Watch out for bogus receipts – Very similar to fake shipping alerts, hackers send bogus receipts as attachments or links with the intention of getting you just curious enough to open them. If they are real, these same receipts are available on the merchant’s website.

Shipping & Holiday Online Scams

  • Beware of Fake Shipping Status Alerts – If you’ve ever done so much online ordering that you don’t have a clear mental picture of what you ordered when/from where, it is easy to get fooled by a fake notice from UPS, FedEx or Amazon. Don’t click on an alert unless you are sure that it is related to something you ordered. An even better idea is to go straight to the website and check the shipping status that way.

Credit Cards

  • Keep an eye on your credit card account – Unauthorized transactions can get missed when there are lots of other items on a statement. Go online and look at your current charges frequently, and make sure you know what all of them are. This is also an argument for using a credit card rather than a debit card – it is much easier to dispute a charge with your credit card company than your bank.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog with great techie gift ideas. We’ll give you a chance to practice your online shopping techniques & protect yourself against Holiday Online Scams!