Tips for safely and securely shopping online

online shopping safety

Hello Cyber Monday! It’s one of the biggest online shopping days of the year and the following weeks are sure to see a lot of online shopping traffic as people hunt for holiday gifts for loved ones. But cybercriminals will be hunting for something as well, your personal information. You can bet as you ramp up your online shopping activity they are ramping up their activity to try and scam you. That’s why the newest SANS Institute newsletter dives into how to shop safely online.

You need to be wary of fake online stores, scammers on legitimate websites and suspicious charges on your credit card. Cybercriminals often create fake online stores that mimic the look of real sites. If you purchase from a fake website, your items may never be delivered. But even trusted websites aren’t 100 percent safe. Large online stores will often sell products by individuals who may have fraudulent intentions. It’s important to know that just because an online store has a professional-looking site does not mean it’s legitimate. Be sure to use well-known sites that you can trust and have safely used in the past. It may mean giving up a great deal, but it also means giving up the possibility of being scammed. 

Here are some quick tips for figuring out if a website is legitimate or not:

  • Watch out for prices that seem too good to be true — they probably are.
  • Check to make sure the domain name of the website isn’t slightly different from what it should be. For example, scammers may set up a www.amaz0n.com — see how the ‘o’ is replaced with ‘0’ there? Be vigilant for those types of subtle changes.
  • Type the web address of an online store into a search engine to see what others have said about it. Look for terms like “fraud” and “scam.”

And you can get all the tips in the newest SANS Institute newsletter!