What You Should Know
- Holiday e-commerce spending to reach $207 billion this year
- Updating your computer security regularly is just one tip to stop malware
- Use Google to search for the e-commerce site you are using to tell if it's fake and has had fraud complaints
E-commerce has increased dramatically over the past two years and will likely be a key player in holiday shopping this year.
Statista, a statistics company, projects e-commerce revenue will approach $207 billion this holiday season, with one-third of the revenue coming from mobile devices.
Unfortunately, there is a dark side — scammers that are waiting to trick, deceive, and con you out of your hard-earned money.
How do you avoid internet scams while shopping online this holiday season? Here are 12 tips.
Secure Your Computer
The first four steps to protecting yourself against malicious cyber attacks involve building proper defenses. Use the following tips to make sure your computer is protected.
Tip 1: Use Antivirus Software
Purchase or download a reputable antivirus software program. The best ones can scan your computer for malware, detect malware in downloads, and warn you of suspicious sites before you enter them.
Tip 2: Keep Your Computer Software Updated
Often, cybercriminals will find exploits in computer systems and attack them with malware. When companies are made aware of exploits, they release fixes or patches to close them. By continuously updating your computer software, you can upgrade your system's security.
Tip 3: Use a Non-Admin Account
Different accounts on computers have different levels of authority and permissions. An account designated as an admin has greater authority than some others. Using an account with less authority can reduce damage if malware infects it.
Tip 4: Regularly Scan Your Computer
Even the most careful individuals get hit with malware sometimes, and the scary part is they might not even know it. Scan your computer regularly, even if it isn't acting funny, and clear out any malware that might have got in.
Related: What is cyber insurance and why is it important?
Avoid Common Internet Scam Traps
When shopping or browsing online, there is always a risk of running into a scam. Scams come in many different forms, but phishing emails, pop-ups, and fake websites are some of the most common. Use these tips to help you spot and avoid scams.
Tip 5: Be Wary of Email Attachments and Links
When a person downloads suspicious email attachments or clicks on links, they can expose their computer's security system to malware. Scan the attachment first to make sure it's malware-free. If the email is from a stranger, don't open it at all.
Sometimes, scammers will send you an email impersonating someone else. Always check the sender's email address and never open any attachments or click on links if you don't recognize the sender.
Tip 6: If It Seems Too Good To Be True, Be Wary
There's an adage, "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is." Although it may seem cool that you were selected to play a new game for free or the winner of $10,000, clicking on that link might take you to a suspicious site where they'll try to steal your information. Always be skeptical.
Tip 7: Look for Secure Sites
There's a protocol with URLs of the most legitimate sites: HTTPS. The 'S' means the site is compliant with the Transport Layer Security protocol (TLS), which is an added security and authentication method. Sites with TLS are more secure than those without.
Tip 8: Resist Social Engineering
Some scams seem anything but fraudulent. They're well-pulled off, carefully orchestrated cons, with a lot of research about you and your weak points. Always be on the lookout for anything that might be suspicious, even when dealing with people you know.
Dealing With Fake E-Commerce Sites
The last four tips hit one of the most important subjects: the fake e-commerce site. Here are four ways to determine if a site is real or fake.
Tip 9: Google the Site
Many times a site that is suspicious or linked to fraud has had numerous complaints or scam alerts. If you google a site, it should pull up any good or bad reviews, whether from BBB or scam alert websites.
Tip 10: Check Social Media
Does the website have a Facebook or Instagram page? How many followers or comments does it have? What has it posted? Check for these important metrics before you purchase from them.
Tip 11: Look for Grammatical Errors
Good e-commerce websites understand that perception and presentation are key, and likely the writing on the site is flawless. If there are a lot of grammatical errors, usage errors, or punctuation errors, they could be red flags.
You should also check the overall appearance of the website. If it doesn't look professional, be wary of it.
Tip 12: Trusted Payment Methods
Credible e-commerce sites accept most types of payment options, including major credit cards. Websites that just accept payment in difficult-to-track methods like crypto could be fake sites looking to steal your money.
As you are shopping online this holiday season, make sure to be extra vigilant to avoid internet scams. An internet scam can cause a lot of damage with a costly cleanup. You should also consider purchasing identity theft insurance to keep you protected from fraudulent activity.