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by admin last modified Nov 12, 2017 10:36 PM
SANS OUCH! for November: Shopping Online Securely
Overview
The holiday season is nearing for many of us, and soon millions of people around the world will be looking to buy the perfect gifts. Many of us will choose to shop online in search of great deals and to avoid long lines and impatient crowds. Unfortunately, this is also the time of year many cyber criminals create fake shopping websites to scam and steal from others. Below, we explain the risks of shopping online and how to get that amazing deal safely.

Fake Online Stores
While many online stores are legitimate, there are some fake websites set up by cyber criminals. Criminals create these fake websites by replicating the look of real sites or using the names of well-known stores or brands. They then use these fraudulent websites to prey on people who are looking for the best deal possible. When you search online for the absolute lowest prices, you may find yourself directed to one of these fake websites. When selecting a website to make a purchase, be wary of websites advertising prices dramatically cheaper than anywhere else or offering products that are sold out nationwide. The reason their products are so cheap or available is because what you will receive is not legitimate, may be counterfeit or stolen, or may never even be delivered. Protect yourself by doing the following:
  • When possible, purchase from websites that you already know, trust, and have done business with previously.
  • Verify the website has a legitimate mailing address and a phone number for sales or support-related questions. If the site looks suspicious, call and speak to a human. If you can’t get a hold of someone to talk to, that is the first big sign you are dealing with a fake website.
  • Look for obvious warning signs, like deals that are obviously too good to be true or poor grammar and spelling.
  • Be very suspicious if a website appears to be an exact replica of a well-known website you have used in the past, but its domain name or the name of the store is slightly different. For example, you may be used to shopping online at Amazon, whose website is https://www.amazon.com. But be very suspicious if you  nd yourself at websites pretending to be Amazon, such as http://store-amazoncom.com.
  • Type the store’s name or URL into a search engine and see what other people have said about the website in the past. Look for terms like “fraud,” “scam,” “never again,” or “fake.” A lack of reviews can also be a sign indicating that the website is very new and might not be trustworthy.
  • Before purchasing any items, make sure your connection to the website is encrypted. Most browsers show a connection is encrypted by having a lock and/or the letters HTTPS in green right before the website’s name.