Tips for Safe Online Shopping During the Holidays

Gear up! Christmas and other winter holidays are just around the corner!

While some people struggle inside a crowded and busy mall, others prefer to shop online. Online holiday shopping is considered by many to be the savior every holiday season, as it is convenient and less stressful than facing the crowds.

The holidays, although joyous, are chock full of scams, hackers, and well- “Grinches” that are trying to ruin your holiday season. If you plan to do most of your holiday gift shopping online, it’s important to practice safety and security. Don’t fall prey to online scams. Let the following online shopping tips be your guide for safe and secure online holiday shopping. Don’t let a scam steal Christmas.

Think before you click on an email.

Can’t resist to grab a new bag for 50% off? Be wary of clicking links from unfamiliar websites, particularly ones that give away unrealistic sounding discounts. Phishing schemes are common during the holidays. Think before you click on random ads or an unknown email in your inbox.

Don’t leave your devices unlocked.

Prying eyes are everywhere so keep your information locked and safe all the time. It only takes someone watching over your shoulder once to give away passwords that would otherwise be safe. Take advantage of a password or code feature to keep your information secure. When creating a password, make sure it is strong and long —at least eight characters or more in a combination of letters, numbers and special characters.

Change your passwords often.

Use different passwords for different websites. Don’t forget to use services like iCloud Keychain and 1Password to help you memorize your passwords. These platforms encrypt your passwords and let you unlock retailers with one secure access code. If you have a Gmail account, monitor your email to prevent hacking.

Download from trusted sources.

It is important to always download from trusted sources like Apple App Store, the Amazon App Store, and Android Market. Once you download an app, it will ask for various ‘permissions’ so make sure you read the details and check if they make sense. Moreover, read the reviews and ratings and browse the website for further information.

Use an extra email account for your shopping needs.

While many of us have separate email addresses for work and personal purposes, use an extra email address for shopping. Keeping this information separate will help you avoid the risk of compromising your personal information. Additionally, use different passwords for each account.

Check if the site is encrypted.

How will you know if the website you’re shopping on is secure? Simply check the address bar and look for HTTPS, instead of just HTTP. If the website isn’t secure, it means that encryption is low. Think twice before you shop on such page as online fraudsters can easily break into your data.

Don’t give away too much information.

If you can buy at a store and do a guest checkout, then do so. You don’t have to create an account in every store you plan to shop. It’s not safe to give out your information, especially when many online cons lurk during the holidays.

Check your account frequently.

Make it a point to do routine checks of your accounts. Hacks happen anytime and at any hour of the day. If you plan to do a lot of online holiday shopping, it’s best to check your account and change your password often.

Don’t use public Wi-Fi.

Never use public Wi-Fi when you shop. There are millions of hackers during the holiday season so be extra careful when using public Wi-Fi. Don’t use a hotspot if you think it is not secured.

Don’t accept virtual gifts.

FREE gifts online? Think again. If a website offers free home appliances, chances are it’s fake. As tempting as it sounds, keep in mind that virtual gift cards have the highest rate of hacking attempts.

Download a trusted antivirus software.

Your antivirus software is your first line of defense against malware. This keeps you and your valuable information secure. Choose from a host of antivirus programs to keep your PC safe from malware and other types of online holiday shopping.

Credit card over debit card.

Online holiday shopping is much safer when you use a credit card. Credit cards have policies in place that secure your account from unauthorized use and theft. They also comes with greater government protection.
Plenty of us never even think about online security. It’s unfortunate that we usually take it for granted, however. With the rising number of online threats, arm yourself with proper information. Be extra careful when you shop from one website to another. Remember that the holiday season is a big season for hackers too. Take a cue from the list above and be proactive when shopping. This way, you can be assured that you have peace of mind while shopping for your favorite items.

If you or someone you know has been victimized in an online scam, or have suspicions of being scammed online, feel free to schedule a free consultation with one of our investigators regarding any questions. Contact us at our main office at (571)-451-4833, or send us an email at

You deserve the right to privacy, security, and can protect yourself from being the next victim of online fraud- you deserve to know.

For further information, check out our other blogs and articles on online scams, fraud, and cybersecurity here.


Ayla O’Shea is a student at San Diego State University and Social Media Analyst at Striker Pierce LLC.




(cite: Sarinah S. – Nov. 2016)