Christmas specials and Christmas deals are always tempting as we look for that perfect gift to make someone’s Christmas extra special. Online shopping has made finding that perfect gift even easier but with convenience comes many new ways to be inconvenienced. Just like the Grinch wants to steal Christmas from the Whos, there are scammers waiting to steal your Christmas. At the very least, they are looking to steal your money. Let’s look at some common online scams that appear at this time of year and how to avoid them.

The Great Pretender

 Scammers are very good at creating fake websites that look exactly like the real website. Why go through all that effort? Simple, to get your money. Scammers will send you an email or SMS direct you to a (fake) website where you are asked to fill in your information. Instead of what you think will happen, your information is stolen. Scammers can then either use it themselves or sell it to others who will.

 

How to Avoid This:

Only use websites you trust. Never click on links from emails or SMSes. Type the website address yourself.

 

You’re Just Too Good to be True.

 You might receive an SMS or email, or possibly even see an ad on a website you don’t normally go to, with an offer that seems too good to be true. It probably is. Even if it appears to be on a site you regularly use, it might be a fake website.

 

How to Avoid This:

Like mentioned above, type the website address to the site yourself and search for the deal. Also, make sure that the site is secure. If you look next to the URL bar you will see a picture of a closed lock or whole key to indicate that it is secure.

 This is what it should look like if a website is secure.

 

Hack And Backslash

 There are many people out there who are looking to steal your banking information. They find more and more creative ways to get your information.

 

How to Avoid This:

  • Never do any online payment on a public computer (for example at an internet cafe) or over an unprotected wifi network.

  • Make sure your security software, like Kaspersky Internet Security, is up to date.

  • Make sure you have a strong password. Avoid using names or dates. Strong passwords use numbers, letters (both upper and lowercase), and characters. For example, instead of using “Welcome” try using something like “W3|(0|v|3”

 

Less is more

The less personal information that possible hackers can access the better. The more email accounts you use the bigger the risk of forgetting a password. That means that you are more likely to use the same password at many different places. This makes it easier for people to access your information.

 

How to Avoid This:

  • Make a new email account. Give only as much information as you need to when creating the account.

  • Make a new and unique password for this account.

  • Only use this account when shopping online. This way you will know if an email is a possible scam if it arrives at an email account other than your shopping account.

These are just a few tips to help you keep safe and avoid being scammed during this festive season. There are many more tips but the most important one is simply to be smart. Remember: “Think before you click.”