How To Spot Online Holiday Shopping Scams During a Pandemic

Due to COVID-19, has “Cyber Monday” turned into “Cyber Season” when it comes to your online holiday shopping? Well, you’re not alone.

Because of the increase in popularity of online shopping during the pandemic, Adobe Analytics predicts that U.S. online holiday sales will total $189 billion this year, a 33% increase over last year.  Unfortunately scammers know this too, and will prey on the higher volume of online shoppers due to COVID-19. With many individuals solely shopping online this year, there is an increased risk of encountering an online holiday shopping scam. 

But don’t worry, we’ve got a few RED FLAGS to look out for while you shop online this year…

Non-Verified Sites: If you are unfamiliar with a retailer, think twice before shopping. Look for verified reviews to ensure the site that you’re purchasing from is a legitimate e-commerce store and not a front! Be sure to check the web address. Remember: “https://” is secure; “http://” is not. 

If you’re unsure about a site, visit Scamadviser.com and search the URL to see if it’s legitimate.

Unbelievable Deals: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Making the distinction between a good deal and a scam becomes a little bit more tricky during this time of year. You’ll have to be extra careful while you shop. Trust your gut! If a sale seems unbelievable – even for Black Friday and Cyber Monday – use caution. If you make a purchase from a fraudulent website or seller, visit us here for recovery help.

Holiday Phishing: If a retailer contacts you with a gift card offer or an unfamiliar link to click, there may be something phishy going on! Fraudsters can pose as well known retailers. Social engineering has become very advanced, so it can be tough to tell a fake email from a real one! Never enter your payment information when it’s requested out-of-the-blue. Don’t let urgent language like “Deal Ends Today!” or “Act Now!” trick you into responding. These are tactics that scammers use to rush you into making a snap decision. If you happen to click a phishing email, FraudSupport.org has you covered. Visit our phishing recovery resource page here

Fake Ads: It’s important to remember that anyone can post ads. Not all ads come from legitimate retailers or sellers. Social media ads can be particularly deceiving because they’re so easy to create. Be sure to verify the seller before purchasing from an in-app ad on Instagram. If a great sale on social media is legitimate, you’ll see it on their website. Don’t click the link provided. Instead, search for the company’s website on Google and look for company reviews online to determine how trustworthy the ad is. If you notice a fake ad, report it to the site that the ad appeared on. We have resources to guide you through the process of reporting and recovering here

If you are the victim of a scam this shopping season, don’t worry! You’re not alone. Cybercrime and online fraud are very common, especially during this time of year. We have resources available to help you recover from phishing, online shopping scams, imposter scams, and more! Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter/Facebook to stay up-to-date on scam news and our latest cybercrime support initiatives. Our mission is made possible by the generous contributions of sponsors and donors. To support us in our efforts, you can shop on Amazon Smile and select Cybercrime Support Network to have 0.5% of your purchase donated to us at no extra cost to you! You can also donate here. No contribution is too small to make a difference to those we serve. Thank you!