While overall holiday shopping traffic is predicted to be down for 2022 by the National Retail Federation (NRF), the number of consumers shopping online continues to grow. 36 percent of Americans have fallen victim to online holiday shopping scams, according to Norton.
Nearly 80 percent of adults in the U.S. shop online, according to Statista, and the number of shoppers who plan to shop online during the holidays has steadily risen since 2015.
The pandemic fueled online shopping trends and the convenience of online shopping has made it the preferred mode of shopping for many. Unfortunately, cybercriminals also find it convenient for targeting. The most common types of e-commerce themes include credit card fraud, identity theft, chargebacks, and bogus returns.
From Trojan attacks to phishing attacks, fake online stores and other scams target online shoppers and their personal data. Last-minute holiday shoppers are especially at risk as they may be more willing to click on suspicious websites during the holiday rush.
Avoiding online holiday shopping scams should be at the top of your list, along with finding the perfect gifts. Here are some tips for avoiding falling victim to these prevalent online holiday shopping scams.
- Use strong passwords. Using a weak password or the same password for multiple websites is just asking for cybercriminals to hack your personal information. Use a password generator to create passwords and never use the same password for all of your online retail accounts.
- Be wary of fake or new websites for retailers. When shopping online it’s best to stick to major retailers. Bargain shoppers, however, can get lured into clicking on links for unfamiliar websites offering holiday sales and promotions. When visiting an unfamiliar online store make sure the website is secure by looking for the padlock symbol in the address bar of your web browser, along with https:// at the front of the web address. Look for legitimate reviews and contact information.
- Use a protected payment method. Whether you’re shopping at a newly discovered retailer online or visiting a store you frequent, choosing your payment method wisely can help you avoid the potential hassle of a scam or unsatisfactory shopping experience. You can usually dispute a charge to your credit card if you didn’t receive the product you ordered (although you’re not guaranteed a full refund.)
- Do not shop on public Wifi. Try not to do any shopping on public IPs or public Wi-Fi.
- Keep receipts and read the retailer’s return policy. Always hang on to email receipts and shopping confirmation codes. It’s helpful to create a folder in your email Inbox specifically for holiday purchases.
Online shopping can be quick and convenient for consumers, but doesn’t need to add stress to an already busy season. Many companies and individuals are investing in identity theft protection software as a safety net against hackers.