Cybersecurity Quick Tips

Holiday Shopping Scams and How to Avoid Them

As the holidays (especially Black Friday and Cyber Monday) are fast approaching, we need to be aware of the avoidable pitfalls while we are doing our holiday shopping. While online shopping has become normal in today’s marketplace, the bad guys have also set up shop. The old adage of “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” has never been truer than it is in today’s shopping.  

An example found on the Call Federal banking website was for a set of complete Taylor Made golf clubs with a bag and free shipping. The price to the customer was a whopping $78.00!!  Anybody that has shopped for a set of Taylor Made golf clubs knows that a full set plus bag would be about $1200.00 plus shipping. In this article, the author communicates with a seller and is asked to supply a PayPal account for the statement. The statement header did not match the business, or the people’s email he was communicating with.  When pressed upon way the difference, they simply started telling him that he must pay for the clubs before they ship the product. They explained the difference between the company they represented and the company at the top of the statement. In the end, they got frustrated with the questions and figured out that he was not going to buy the product and cut all communication with him.   He tried several different “great” deals and they all ended up at the same conclusion. Pay the statement and we will send you the product. 

The first issue with the above situation is that a set of golf clubs were less than $100.00 and brand new with free shipping. The next issue is that they supplied a different business statement than what they were using to sell the product.  The next reason is that they were being pushy about getting the statement paid. Of all the things wrong that can be picked out of any scam like this, those three things are the constant in almost every scam.   

Also, be careful of your emails.  They can have links to sites that can steal your information and identity.  A good rule of thumb I use is, if I don’t recognize the sender, I don’t open it.  This is just a matter of good common sense.  If you do get an email that seems to be legitimate, and you think you can trust it, do yourself a huge favor, don’t click the link provided.  Open a new tab, write the link out (Do Not Copy and Paste), and see if it sends you to the correct site.  Also, look at the site over you are on if you do click the link.  Does it look like the current website that business uses? Does the website ask for personal information outside the normal login and password? There are several ways to avoid getting scammed this holiday season, and the best one is to be vigilant about what sites you are using and what information you are sending onto the internet.  

Just remember, if the deal looks too good to be true, or the price does not seem right.  Chances are they are not legitimate and will do nothing but take your money and run.  One of the things I have done in the past is to open or reduce a credit card that has about $1000.00 limit.  I would only use this card when shopping online.  I found this to be useful one year, about 15 years ago.   I had opened a secured credit card for my oldest to use during the holiday season.  After about 3 weeks, I got a phone call from my bank asking if I had charged $1000.00 to Best Buy (I think).   I called my son and he told me no and asked why.  I explained what I was told and then I called them back and told the bank he had not.  The good news is that he had already charged about 250.00 on it. That meant there was not enough money available to charge it.  I asked for that card to be closed and opened a brand new one for him.   

The moral of this story is that if the deal seems better than it should be, don’t do it.  Do your research on the products you want to buy and keep the opening of emails limited to only from places you know and trust.  But be warned, the bad guys are out there, and they are getting better every day.  

Happy holidays to you and your family.