‘Tis the season for sales! Historically, Black Friday has been the traditional time to grab a bargain during the holiday season, but times change, and technology is transforming our shopping habits. As a result, Cyber Monday, the digital version of Black Friday where you can find the best deals online, has been steadily gaining popularity.

Now, a survey from Deloitte (via CNBC) shows that of those looking for bargains this holiday season, 53% will be looking on Cyber Monday compared to 44% on Black Friday. As Cyber Monday takes over as the most popular shopping day, it’s time to take a step back and think about what that means for our online shopping safety overall.

Everyone knows that security is important when shopping online. However, when bargains are available, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and forget. Hackers and other online frauds are most active around the holidays. Unless you’re careful, the hunt for savings may cost you more.

There are plenty of things to keep in mind, including being careful, using common sense and avoiding anything that doesn’t feel quite right. However, at this time of year, the scams get creative, so let’s look at the more common ways consumers can be scammed during their search for online bargains.


Scam Watch

There are a number of scams we can fall prey to in the scramble to find a bargain. Always apply the old saying, “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” There are great deals to be had during the holiday season, but you should be wary of extreme savings. If that $1,000 TV is selling for $100, there may be something amiss.

Here are some scams that are common all over the holiday period:

• Fake Online Stores: This is unfortunately quite common. In this instance, a fake online store is set up featuring great offers. Behind the scenes, it’s harvesting card numbers and personal details.

• Account Hacking: This can affect both retailers and consumers. Account hacking is when accounts are hacked and orders are made to a different address. The cybercriminal may use fake credit card numbers or, for accounts that store payment details, may even use stolen card details.

• Email Links: Here, fake emails coming from seemingly trusted sites are distributed with links to tempting bargains. When the unknowing consumer clicks through to purchase, they’re sent to a copy site that harvests their details.

• Public Wi-Fi: While it may be tempting to do a bit of online shopping on the go and at the coffee shop, beware. Data is not secure on public Wi-Fi and may be intercepted, making it easier for cybercriminals to steal identities and card numbers.

• Unencrypted Sites: Some legitimate online stores fail to use encryption, leaving the consumer vulnerable. Unencrypted transmissions that store financial and personal details can be intercepted and stolen. In many cases, that’s why the site fails to use encryption in the first place.

• Goods Never Sent: A seemingly legitimate site may simply disappear after a sales scramble is over, meaning the consumer never actually receives their purchased goods.

There are many more scams out there, but most follow the patterns you can see in these examples. Knowing where the risk comes from is one thing, but how can you stay safe and still grab a bargain?


Staying Safe Online

• For Consumers: Around the holiday season especially, but whenever you’re shopping online, always be vigilant. You can limit the risk you are exposed to. Stick to stores you know, and if you find something from an unknown supplier, check out the site. Look for reviews or comments, and make sure the site is secure before making purchases. Check for contact details in case your order doesn’t arrive, and make sure credit card companies support their payment system.

Keeping your accounts secure means being careful. Don’t store passwords on your phone or devices that others can get access to. Use original, strong passwords that won’t be guessed, and check for activity on the account that may show signs of hacking.

During the holiday period, you’ll also be overwhelmed with email offers. Never just click a link. Double-check the sender’s legitimacy, and if in any doubt, visit the site via a bookmark, or enter the address manually. For additional peace of mind, you can also invest in a cybersecurity tool. This will help ensure your identity and your family remain safe from unwanted criminals during what should be the happy holiday season.

Above all, always be aware of what you’re clicking on, entering details in or looking at. It takes seconds to double-check, so always do, and you can have a great holiday.

• For Retailers: Identity fraud is one of the most common issues retailers come across during the holiday season, and it can be difficult to spot. Implementing an email validation for account setup or bank validation for payments can avoid many of the common identity fraud approaches before they cost you money. Delivery is another area where you can take measures. Many fraudsters will be looking to have parcels redirected to new addresses. If the goods are being sent to another city or state from the identity given, it may be something that could be flagged as a warning in the system.

Ensure all your software and systems are up to date to provide the best protection possible, and be aware of the signs of account takeover activity such as multiple failed password entries and the use of several IP addresses when logging in.



While this sounds scary, you can still enjoy shopping during the holiday season and grab those bargains you have been dreaming of. If you take care, double-check that sites and payments are legitimate and follow the advice here, you will have a safe (and successful) holiday.

Read the original article at Forbes.