Go To Namecheap.com
Hero image of 4 ways to avoid online fraud this holiday season
Security & Privacy

4 ways to avoid online fraud this holiday season

It’s about that time to scout out the perfect presents for family and friends. When the holiday season rolls around, cyber thieves, too, get busy shopping around — for your money and sensitive data, that is. 

The holiday season gives cyber thieves plenty of opportunities to take advantage of unwitting shoppers. Their past success is evident when you consider that in 2020 the FBI got more than 17,000 cybercrime-related complaints and reported that total consumer losses accounted for more than $53 million. This year, that number may rise even higher in light of continuing supply chain issues and the after-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

While it’s important to remain vigilant of cyber criminals when shopping for this year’s gifts, you can also empower yourself by learning what to look out for and how to avoid getting scammed. To that end, let’s cover some of the most important ways you can protect yourself against holiday season fraud attempts and cyberattacks.

Watch for emails offering hot-ticket items

While not among the newest tricks up the sleeves of cyber thieves, phishing remains a common method that bad actors use to compromise consumer data and finances. What is much newer, however, are the phishing tactics that cybercriminals now often employ. 

Scammers will, for instance, prey on holiday buyers by sending them email ads that boast big-ticket items. Scammers aim to entice holiday shoppers with these emails to get more clicks on dangerous links. For instance, a phishing email that hypes up a can’t-miss sale on a hot-ticket product like a gaming console would have countless people unknowingly providing their credit card details after clicking on the enclosed link. 

Since mid-September, holiday shoppers have been falling victim to a new scam. In this case, a sophisticated phishing kit relies on evasion detection and a token-based system responsible for redirecting victims to unique phishing pages. This phishing kit is a prime example of a recent spin on phishing that targets buyers searching for holiday deals. 

Monitor for potential fraud

During the holiday shopping season, pay attention to things such as your payment cards and bank accounts, scanning transactions for instances of fraud. The types of scams that are already common throughout the year tend to surge as shoppers increase their spending during the holiday season. In addition to your payment cards and bank accounts, you should monitor your payment apps, such as CashApp, Venmo, and PayPal, for fraud as well. 

You can monitor for instances of fraud by regularly checking your balances and purchases during the busiest months of the holiday season (typically December and January). This is actually one of the most straightforward things you can do to spot fraud, and it’s a precaution you should regularly take throughout the year. 

If you find an unexpected transaction in your bank account or on payment cards and apps, contact your credit card provider and financial institution, as well as law enforcement and the FTC, as soon as possible.

criminal hiding behind ad on social media

Exercise greater social media restraint

Many online shoppers stay abreast of the latest and greatest holiday deals via social media platforms. Because of this, though, scammers have plenty of opportunities to target people shopping around on platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram. Specifically, scammers will create disingenuous posts encouraging users to click on them to redeem things like gift cards and vouchers. 

This type of social media scam is similar to the phishing scams we described earlier. If a user finds a social media post for a fake gift card on Facebook, for example, they might unknowingly give up their financial or personal information. 

It’s also common for cyber thieves to create shoppable social media posts advertising fake products. Shoppable posts, while extremely useful for eCommerce stores automating their marketing efforts, also allow bad actors to advertise counterfeit products in the hopes of getting more people to interact with their fraudulent posts. 

If you know that you’re likely to interact with shoppable posts to browse items you may want to buy, be especially wary of fraudulent social media posts. 

Remember that cybercriminals often lure people into interacting with their fake posts by advertising products that they don’t actually have. When an unwitting user buys something through a fraudulent social media post, they compromise their financial information and pay for something they’ll never receive.

Protect your passwords

Have you created one or more accounts at eCommerce stores to check out products you may want to buy? If so, you’ll want to spend a bit of time safeguarding your passwords and considering the security of your account(s) before the holidays are in full swing. Doing so mitigates the risk of having your accounts compromised.

There are a couple of best practices you should follow to maintain the security of your accounts. For one, always create unique passwords for your different accounts or use a password manager to come up with ones that are difficult to guess.

You’ll also want to ensure that you use multifactor authentication (MFA) whenever possible. MFA asks that users take additional steps to verify their identities when attempting to sign in to an account. MFA is essential if you want an extra layer of security in case one of your accounts’ passwords is compromised.

This is also a good time to check whether the security software installed on your devices is up to date. Always ensure that your devices’ software security has been updated before purchasing anything online — it’s the best way to protect yourself from phishing attempts and malware. 

Do your online shopping safely

You’re now familiar with some of the best tips to keep in mind to proactively protect yourself against cyberattacks and fraud this holiday season. Even though cybercriminals will be doing their best to prey on unsuspecting shoppers, you’re now better able to guard against them even when you’re hastily making your way through a seemingly endless shopping list. 

We urge you to remember the precautions we’ve laid out in this article so that you can take care of your holiday shopping and enjoy the holidays stress-free.

Was this article helpful?
Get the latest news and deals Sign up for email updates covering blogs, offers, and lots more.
I'd like to receive:

Your data is kept safe and private in line with our values and the GDPR.

Check your inbox

We’ve sent you a confirmation email to check we 100% have the right address.

Help us blog better

What would you like us to write more about?

Thank you for your help

We are working hard to bring your suggestions to life.

Gary Stevens avatar

Gary Stevens

Gary Stevens is a web developer and technology writer. He's a part-time blockchain geek and a volunteer working for the Ethereum foundation as well as an active Github contributor. More articles written by Gary.

More articles like this
Get the latest news and deals Sign up for email updates covering blogs, offers, and lots more.
I'd like to receive:

Your data is kept safe and private in line with our values and the GDPR.

Check your inbox

We’ve sent you a confirmation email to check we 100% have the right address.

Hero image of 6 grammar mistakes that drive blog readers nuts4 ways to avoid online fraud this holiday season
Next Post

6 grammar mistakes that drive blog readers nuts

Read More