How to stay safe online during the holiday shopping season

Be vary of emails, purchase directly from the vendor, and remember, sometimes things are too good to be true

A recent survey from Google shows Canadians will continue the trend of online shopping this holiday season. With the arrival of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, shopping for deals online is easier than ever.

Many companies started the sale season early, offering great deals on phones, accessories, and various other products. But it’s important for shoppers to remember that some deals are, in fact, too good to be true.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are days where cybercriminals ramp up their efforts to dupe people into forking over personal information.

A recent survey from NordVPN found Canadians were among the most likely in the world willing to give away “a significant amount of identifying information.” Canadians place the onus on the price point of products, and the security of a website is disregarded, the survey states.

NordVPN’s survey asked 8,000 people across the world about their shopping habits, summarizing information for various counties, including Canada, Australia and Germany.

Robert Falzon, head of engineering at Check Point Canada, told MobileSyrup, the most common scams during the holiday shopping season involve phishing, including deceptive emails and texts.

“Predominant examples include fake emails pretending to be asking for clarification or payment for shipping of goods, the sale of counterfeit goods, and inquiries related to payment for items already purchased,” Falzon said.

NordVPN also found social engineering also plays a role. With the end goal being getting people to “download something dodgy,” cybercriminals disguise malicos links with statements that make people want to click on them, like “Get the deal NOW before time runs out!”

Falzon said its harder to identify a potential scam today than it was in the past as scammers improve the quality of their deceptive actions. It’s easier to create realistic logos and domains, he said.

So what can people do to keep their information safe?

“Canadians should be very wary of anything reaching them via their email inbox,” Falzon warns.

Avoid clicking on links for consumer activities sent through emails. Instead, directly purchase the product from the vendors website, he said.

Also, pay attention to the addresses advertising consumer activities in your email, as scammers register domains that are very similar to the vendors they impersonate.

“Perhaps unsurprisingly, Black Friday scams aren’t just a U.S phenomenon, as they continue to plague us in Canada at an alarming rate,” Falzon said.

Image credit: Shutterstock