How to Spot and Stop Popular Online Shopping Scams this Shopping Season

It’s shopping season! While more people choose to do their holiday shopping online, this creates the perfect opportunity for cybercriminals to entice unsuspecting shoppers. Check out how you can avoid scam attempts this holiday season.

A growing number of consumers are getting their shopping done online at a staggering growth of 43% vs. only 16% last year in the US alone, enhancing the opportunities for cyber attackers to strike. While using sophisticated phishing technology, cyber criminals pretend to be genuine sellers as an attempt to manipulate you into divulging sensitive data such as credit card information and log-in credentials. During Single’s Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, cyberattacks have been extremely high. Add the 400% increase in online scams since the year 2020, and your risk this year alone is off the charts.

Follow these tips to keep your information private.

Top signs of scams to watch out for

1. If the site offers “too good to be true” discounts

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. The newest iPhone will not sell for $200. Forget about it. We will cover what to do to find out whether it’s a real offer or not later in the article.

2. If the site URL and website look a bit different

Fake sites mimicking popular shopping sites during the cyber shopping season, such as Alibaba and Amazon, are very common and are hard to identify as fake. In 2015, more than 5,000 phishing sites in China alone targeting Singles’ Day shoppers were uncovered.

3. If the site demands bizarre forms of payment

Such as money orders, wire-transfers, or pre-loaded money cards and vouchers.

4. If the site doesn’t have a return policy

5. If the seller is unknown

How to avoid being scammed

Don’t use unsecured Wi-Fi networks

Such as those present in coffee shops and other public places, as suspicious sites are easier to get through to you.

Search for security symbols, such as SSL

Search for an SSL certificate that ensures the safety of the site.

Use a “fake site” database to see if your site appears on it

For Black Friday for instance, dedicated sites such as blackfridayscom.tld and black-fridaywalmart.tld were created in order to help shoppers double-check shopping sites.

Use secure payment methods

Search for validation icons (that are actually clickable, not just images).

Pay only by credit card or PayPal

Make sure not to ever make a direct bank transfer or buy a prepaid card or vouchers.

Identify the seller

Sites like WHOIS can provide information about the site owner and how long the domain has existed. If no contact details exist, do not proceed with the purchase.

Always look for a return policy

If it’s not apparent, it’s a good sign that the site is fake, as it’s a standard part of an e-commerce site.

Get protected, it’s easy!

Shop safely and worry-free with ZoneAlarm Extreme Security. Advanced cybersecurity with a unique anti-phishing technology that protects your most sensitive information in real-time from creative hackers and their malicious sites. 

Before enabling you to insert your credentials, the anti-phishing technology scans the website and examines its characteristics. The system will determine whether the site is trustworthy or not using Check Point’s ThreatCloud™, the world’s most extensive threat database. If the site is determined to be fraudulent, you will be alerted immediately and blocked from accessing it, keeping your information safe. 

Keep this article as a guideline when shopping this sales season! We hope you enjoyed it.

Happy shopping season!

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