Expert offers tips for avoiding scams while holiday shopping

Posted at 6:21 PM, Dec 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-09 20:21:36-05

SALT LAKE CITY – The end of the year hustle and bustle to buy gifts online is prime season for scammers, and cyber security experts say scammers are becoming more savvy, but they’re working around the clock to track them down and alert shoppers about their latest tactics.

FOX 13 News talked to Michael Kaiser with the National Cyber Security Alliance.

“It's hard during the holiday season, people are chasing these great items, hottest item of the season you can't find anywhere else," Kaiser said. "The bad guys know that, and they use that to lure people in to websites.”

Scammers are eager to pounce on unsuspecting shoppers by offering too good to be true deals on what looks like a reliable website. Turns out, it’s a fake and the ads may have malware.

“All of a sudden, you're actually giving away your financial information,” Kaiser said.

Another way shoppers could get ripped off is through social engineering.

For example, they may send you an email saying there’s a problem with your order and your payment didn’t go through.

“There are other ways to verify it," Kaiser said of those situations. "Go back to the original site where you made the purchase, get the tracking number they originally gave you."

With the convenience of mobile shopping, Kaiser recommends you limit the amount of information you share over public Wi-fi.

“Wi-fi is not a great secure shopping environment," he said.

There are some ways to protect yourself from cyber criminals:

  • Update your device's security software
  • Change passwords frequently: add uppercase and lowercase letters with numbers and symbols.
  • Check for the S in the web address (https), as that’s an indication the site is safe
  • Make sure you’re clicking on links from trusted organizations
  • If your information is compromised, change your passwords immediately and report the fraud to credit bureaus right away so thieves can’t open up accounts under your name