The holiday season is synonymous with festivities, cheer, and mirth. It is also that “much-awaited time of the year” when flashy discount signs lure shopaholics with their special festive promotions and offer: the beginning of the “Sale Period”. While you can always save money while shopping online, you have to be careful and stay away from scams.
Holiday Season Scams
While excited shoppers get busy grabbing the hottest deals and bargains, holiday season shopping scams also become rampant. Beware of these ‘new age’ online and mobile shopping frauds to protect your assets and identity and to enjoy carefree holidays.
As more and more people now use Internet and mobile phones for faster and last-minute purchases, our criminal heroes too wish to make some money when you shop online, etc. These scams not only rob naïve customers of their money but also pose a threat of identity theft.
Here are some of the most discreetly manipulative shopping season scams that you should beware of.
Hottest Online Deals are not so Hot
With the number of online shoppers burgeoning during the holiday season, the figures of fake websites, counterfeit gift cards, phony contests, SMS and digital scams shoot up too. Customers getting tricked into buying ‘designer products at throwaway prices’ or bagging amazing deals that turn out to be counterfeit products are common online shopping season scams. Entering social media contests to win a special holiday season gift hamper may land you in trouble too. It just takes one click on your end to have cyber criminals gain illegitimate access to your personal and financial information and use it in an illegal manner.
Avoid Online Shopping Fraud & Scams
Shop responsibly. Transact on authentic e-commerce websites that are verified for customer safety and have secure payment gateways linked to legitimate banks and service providers.
Mobile Shopping can be Malicious
Modern-day cyber criminals are always on the prowl for naïve customers who do not completely understand all the aspects of mobile shopping. They create genuine-looking mobile websites and send promotional advertisements that look legitimate. They also add fake celebrity endorsements so as not to raise doubts. Such content, when accessed or downloaded on a smart phone, may intercept, modify and misuse all existing data, including contact information, bank details, and passwords pertaining to your identity and assets.
Solution: Review mobile websites and applications before downloading them on your mobile or tablet and read user reviews before shopping in a sprint.
Online Donations: To a Charity or a Criminal
Being generous during the holiday season is noble, but being blind to fake ‘emotional blackmail’ is unwise. Cyber criminals use authentic institution logos to create fake email campaigns and “move” you to make a donation through well-written and sensational pitches through dodgy online links. While you feel good about your ‘kind deed’, they gulp down your hard-earned money.
Solution: If you feel like making an underprivileged smile, conduct a thorough background research of the charity or foundation you wish to donate to. They always have legitimate contact information so that you can get in touch with them directly. Most importantly, never divulge your personal or bank details with any unknown entity.
Travel Scams that can take you for a Ride
Travel deals and links received through social media sites or emails may hoodwink you into submitting your personal information. Visiting malicious websites may infect your computer with virus and malware and give scamsters the opportunity to compel you into making a fake purchase.
Solution: Before you jump on a Euro Tour package offer for just $300, carry out a little research about the service provider’s credentials and authenticity. Read customer reviews to check if the company or the offer is legitimate and do not forget to run an anti-virus scan on your computer after any such online activity.
Read here about the most common Online and Email scams & frauds.
Sending E-Greetings and Malware to your Loved Ones
Thanks to e-cards, you can convey season’s greetings to your family and friends located miles away from you in a quick and convenient manner. But, some of them may also carry malware and may lead your loved ones to download a malicious virus on their systems when they click to open a link or download an email attachment.
Solution: Choose reputed service providers. Look for misspelled names and words in the attachment links. If you find any fallacies, simply hit the ‘Delete’ button, pick up the phone and give your family or friends a call. They would love it!
Don’t let these holiday season shopping scams ruin your festive spirit. Bear in mind the simple solutions to avoid online shopping scams and enjoy your holidays without being duped! Download this booklet from Microsoft. It talks about how to stay safe from online fraud.
This post on Credit Card Skimming and Pin Theft Frauds may also interest you.
Speaking of scams, some of these links are sure to interest you:
- Avoid online scams and know when to trust a website
- Beware of Tax Scams
- Beware of Fake Online Employment and Job Scams
- Avoid Online Tech Support Scams and PC Cleanup Solutions
- Avoid Phishing Scams And Attacks
- Avoid Vishing and Smishing Scams
- Avoid scams that fraudulently use the Microsoft name
- Avoid Internet Catfishing Social Engineering Scams.
Assisted by Pallavi Dubey