When shopping online you can often expect the checkout process to trigger a flurry of emails, texts, and other communications. Online shoppers expect to receive order confirmations, electronic receipts, and shipping notifications — not to mention countless alerts about special discounts, sales, and rewards. Scammers leverage these expectations to their advantage, creating convincing phishing emails to mimic these anticipated communications. Scammers also know that people are often distracted during the holidays and disguise their intent as legitimate holiday-related commerce communication. Be sure to stay extra cautious and diligent while shopping online during the holiday season.
Scammers often send phishing emails that seem to come from recognized department stores, e-commerce sites, and other large, popular retailers. Because consumers already expect to get emails from these legitimate brands, often they fail to notice a well-disguised phish.
Often these fraudulent emails play on fear. For example, you might receive a fake notification that warns you’ve been locked out of your account. The email will likely request that you verify your identity in order to steal your login credentials or other personal information.
Another common variation uses the lure of large discounts or other rewards. Unfortunately, offers that seem too good to be true, often are. Instead they scam is attempting to steal your money or information.
Scammers have successfully mimicked emails that appear to come from shipping services for a long time. These phony shipping emails become more frequent during the holidays.
Because online orders are expected to arrive before a specific date during the holidays, it is easy to create a sense of urgency or panic around a delayed shipment — especially when it comes to last-minute gifts. If you’ve been shopping online, you are likely to pay attention to an urgent email about a package that couldn’t be delivered.
These phishing emails use convenient timing and content to trick you into clicking a link or opening an attachment without thinking. The email could contain a malicious attachment or link disguised as a fake invoice or notification that can infect your device when downloaded or clicked.
Scammers often attempt to lure to users to fake flight reservation sites by clicking on links in phishing emails that claim to provide flight booking confirmation updates or receipts. The scammers hope to trick you into clicking a malicious link and enter your personal or credit card information.
Keeping security top of mind is especially important when you are planning to travel during the holidays. Extra precautions are necessary in order to avoid taking risk actions and to identify any potential threats. Even if an email looks legitimate, be sure to verify it with the company. Be sure to use direct forms of communication, like through the company’s website or their direct phone number, instead of replying directly to the email. Spammers aren’t afraid to respond to you and imitate the company, further enforcing their false credibility.
Don’t let holiday pressures rush you into snap judgments. Carefully examine any email or message that urges you to act quickly. If you’re not completely positive that a message is safe, it’s always better to err on the side of caution.
To avoid falling for online imposters, be sure to only interact with trusted websites, preferably those you have used in the past. If you do decide to shop at less-familiar sites, be sure to do your research before engaging or making a purchase.
There’s a difference between a great deal and an unbelievable deal. Fraudulent ads may promise luxury goods at very low prices, or the opportunity to purchase a sold our or limited release item. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.