10 Tips to Secure Online Holiday Shopping

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

UK officials shut down an amazing 1200 online retailers who scammed millions from unsuspecting shoppers. Most of the sites originated from identity thieves in Asia who tricked victims into believing they were legitimate sites.  Victims then lost money by entered their credit card data, sending checks or giving up banking details.

The sites sold high end designer items from Tiffany & Co, Ugg and jewelry. In some cases the victims actually received the items, but were counterfeit. Like Mom said, if it’s too good to be true it probably is. Of course nobody running the fake sites has been caught.

Criminals set up fake websites and then go through the same process legitimate eTailers do in regards to search engine optimization, search engine marketing and online advertising via adwords. They use key words to boost their rankings on Internet searches to show up along side legitimate sites. These same processes are also being used to infect unsuspecting users with malware.

Many victims who end up on scam sites generally get there via phish emails with offers for high end products for little money.

  1. It’s easy enough to avoid spoofed websites where phishing is the gateway. Common sense says any time you receive an offer via an email automatically be suspect. The same goes with offers via tweets and messages received in any social media. Scammers are committing social media identity theft every day.
  2. If you aren’t familiar with the eTailer don’t even bother clicking the links, especially if it’s a too good to be true offer.
  3. If it’s a known site sending the email and you decide to click links, make sure the address you end up at is in fact the actual domain of the eTailer. Beware of cybersquatting and typosquatting which may look like the domain of the legitimate eTailer.
  4. When placing an order always look for HttpS is the address bar signifying it’s a secure page. Scammer generally won’t take the time to set up secure sites. Note the closed padlock in your browser to back up the HttpS.
  5. Beware of emails coming for eBay scammers. I’m getting 10 a day. The fact is it’s difficult to tell a real from a fake. If you are seeking deals on eBay go right to the site and don’t bother responding to emails. If there is a deal you see in an email search it on eBay.
  6. Whenever you decide to make an eBay purchase look at the eBayers history. eBay is set up on the honor system and if the eBayer is an established seller with great feedback then they should be legitimate.
  7. Don’t worry about credit card fraud. But do pay close attention to your statements. Check them every two weeks online and refute unauthorized charges within 2 billing cycles, otherwise you will pay for an identity thieves gifts.
  8. Don’t use a debit-card online. If your debit card is compromised thats money out of your bank account. Credit cards have more protection and less liability.
  9. Avoid paying by check online/Mailorder. In person is OK. But to an unfamiliar virtual site is not. Once the money is taken from your account and you don’t receive the goods, you are going to have a difficult if not impossible task of getting it back. Use a uniball gel pen that prevents check-washing.
  10. Do business with those you know like and trust. I for one am guilty of buying from eTailers who have the best deals. But I only buy low ticket items from them, generally under $50.00. It’s best to buy high ticket items from eTailers that also have a brick and mortar locations.

Robert Siciliano identity theft speaker discussing holiday scams on Foxes Mike and Juliet Show

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