This article is for both Christmas lovers and Grinches.
Christmas shopping is often overwhelming because you must buy gifts for your family, friends, and even co-workers. The lack of choice and high prices have most probably persuaded you to turn your back on the local stores and browse the internet in search of the perfect presents. However, when ordering presents online, it’s crucial to protect your sensitive information and not leave a trail that could allow cyber criminals to track your activity and take advantage of your data and finances.
When buying Christmas gifts, your main worry is the recipients not finding out what you purchased, but spoilers are the least of your worries these days. Shopping online leaves you vulnerable to data breaches and scams, and you should first protect yourself from online threats before worrying about your loved ones having a glimpse of their present. Hackers are targeting holiday shoppers these days because people tend to make mistakes when in a hurry to find the perfect gifts.
Read on to find out how to avoid online scams and protect your finances and data during the holiday season.
Research to identify fake retail websites
Cybercriminals create fake retail websites that mimic legitimate pages to trick people into offering their card details and paying for products online. The differences between the two websites are often subtle, but they exist, so you should always inspect a page before ordering a product or paying online. Knowing what you’re looking for is crucial because fake websites mirror real pages very closely. Hackers often make grammar and spelling mistakes or spell the product’s name slightly differently than on the original website.
Don’t purchase from a website if you find it suspicious because you might fall victim to digital criminals. When something doesn’t seem right, exit the website and restart your search on Google. You’ll most likely find the real website in the first results if you type the brand’s name.
Look out for gift card scams
When the offer seems too good to be true, it is most likely a scam. Gift cards at reduced prices or offered free are often scams to trick purchasers into providing their card details. Scammers usually use social media platforms or fake websites to offer empty gift cards or used gift cards. If you want to offer a gift card to your loved one, buy it directly from the retailer and ensure you register on the real website. Also, make sure the seller offers a receipt for the purchase, so you can dispute if you’re dealing with issues.
Protect your sensitive information from shipping notification scams
You have most likely heard about a common type of scam people have been falling victim to lately, shipping scams, where they get an SMS or email notification saying that their order has been shipped. The message contains a link that asks you to track or view the order. This is how phishing scams work, and you should never open an email or click a link when you didn’t place an order with the sender. Clicking on the link allows cyber criminals to put malware on your internet-connected device and capture your personal information.
The specialists from Data Breach Claims state that shipping notification scams are common and allow cybercriminals to obtain personal information, credit card information, passwords, and other sensitive data that allows them to steal money.
Be aware of job scams
People often look for ways to boost their income during the winter holidays because they have more expenses. If you’re looking for a part-time job, make sure you check the employer because the last thing you need is never to get the money you work so hard for. Often job scams provide you with false employer information to make you think you’re working for a legitimate company.
If you apply for an online job, make sure you trust the platform providing the position and research the companies before applying to ensure they’re legitimate.
Donate only to registered charities
It’s common for people to donate to charities during the holiday season because they want to help those in need. Sadly, fraudsters often take advantage of the spirit of giving over and trick people into offering money. Before donating to a charity, you have yet to hear of due diligence and research it to determine if it’s reliable. If the organisation isn’t registered with the government, you should not donate money because the chances are for the funds to go to a hacker’s account. Search the list of registered charities in your area and donate to the one you share values with.
Be cautious when shopping online
Nowadays, you can purchase products and services via social media platforms. Unfortunately, social media scams are prevalent during the winter holidays, and it’s crucial to protect yourself from such an instance. If you see a valuable product available at a quite low price than its market price, be mindful because it’s an excellent chance to be a scam. Also, sellers sometimes obtain the items illegally and sell them for prices below their market value.
Stay away from romance and catfishing scams
This is an old scam; many have fallen victim in one form or another. Classic romance scams usually start with conversations on social media platforms or by exchanging phone texts. Since the scam is as old as the internet, the ones behind it have plenty of experience and some knowledge of human psychology, so they can easily trick people. People want company and affection during the holiday, and many are OK with finding it online. Cyber criminals can use fake profiles to inject malware into your computer or smartphone or try to obtain your personal data. Therefore, it’s crucial not to trust anyone you meet online, especially if they ask for your credit card information or money. Don’t share your intimate information on dating platforms or social media even if the other person provides similar information.
Scammers are looking for any way to get money, so when something seems too good to be true, it probably is, and you shouldn’t try to purchase it.