Imagine Andy Williams singing, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and it may indeed be the most wonderful time of the year for many people, but it is not so wonderful if you have been scammed by cybercriminals who really do find the holiday shopping season to be the most wonderful time of the year – for them. I received an email today showing me how I could get iPads and iPhones at 90% discounts by clicking on links and ordering them online. If I had clicked on the links, all I would have succeeded in doing would have been paying electronically for goods that I never would have received. Meanwhile, by clicking on the links, I also would have run the risk of unknowingly downloading keystroke logging malware that could have stolen all of the information from my computer, such as my Social Security number, credit card number and other financial data and made me a victim of identity theft.
People also get in trouble when they go to phony websites that appear to be those of legitimate retailers and turn over their credit card information to a scammer and never get the goods they think they are purchasing.
If an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Scammers always pick the most popular and expensive items to lure people into sending them money for goods that never are delivered. Never click on links in emails, tweets or text messages unless you are sure the communications are legitimate and it is hard to do so without calling the legitimate company because even if it truly appears to be coming from a legitimate person or entity, their email, twitter, or smart phone may have been hacked into and the communication you receive is from a scammer. Only deal with companies that you know are legitimate and confirm that you are actually on a legitimate website because phony websites can look quite good.
As for online shopping websites, there are a few ways you can determine whether or not a shopping website is legitimate or not. First, find out who actually owns the website. Websites such as http://lookwhois.net/ will enable you to merely put in the URL and see who actually owns the website you are considering using for shopping. If it doesn’t match the legitimate company that you think you are doing business with, you will know to stay away. Also, call the company at a telephone number you know is legitimate to confirm the precise website URL that they use.