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Avoid Cyber Monday & Holiday Shopping Scams

Avoid Cyber Monday Scams

Cyber Monday offers the promise of lucrative deals from the comfort of our own homes or any place of our choosing. But as we try to save time and money, online shopping also poses risks as criminals take advantage of us overzealous online shoppers. For me, Cyber Monday isn’t as compelling as usual because I sought out online Black Friday deals and already made a serious dent in my shopping list. In fact, I conveniently made most of my purchases online and then went to the stores to pick up those items a few hours later. But as I was searching for the best possible prices, I noticed some suspicious sites which reminded me it’s not a good deal if I never receive the merchandise I pay for or if the merchandise turns out to be counterfeit or low in quality. With that in mind, let’s review online shopping basics to avoid abundant online scams and future aggravation!


  • Use current anti-malware and anti-virus protection whenever you access the internet.
    • This applies to all devices including smartphones, computers and tablets.
  • If it looks too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. Evaluate each situation carefully before providing personal or credit card information for an incredible deal if it is not on a site of a reputable and well-known retailer. 
    • Yesterday I found my facial moisturizer for a ridiculously low price on an unfamiliar site. I got a disconnection message when I called the listed phone number. If I had made a purchase on this site, my personal information would have been compromised for something I would likely not receive.
  • Watch out for fake websites. Anti-virus and anti-malware software such as McAfee SiteAdvisor® or Bitdefender Traffic Light provide an instant warning when going to risky sites but don’t forget to use common sense too.

    Any color but Green warns of a potential problem.

    • Nowadays, one doesn’t have to click on a bad link to get infected. Simply going to malicious sites can cause problems too.
  • Beware of sites that do not list a telephone number and/or address.
  • Be concerned if contact information is provided but you can’t reach a live person during business hours.
  • There is lots of counterfeit merchandise for sale in all price ranges. If the price is substantially lower on one site, there is a good chance the label or product is not real. Fake products can include cosmetics, jewelry, designer goods and more.
  • Do not click on any link in a spam email or pop-up ad to avoid accidentally downloading harmful malware.
  • Delete spam emails and do not use unsubscribe links unless you are positive it is a legitimate email from a legitimate source. (Hover over the link – content of links are huge clues to potentially malicious links.)
  • Use a major credit card and do not use a debit card or bank account for online payments so you have recourse on problematic transactions.
  • Understand return policies to make sure you are protected if you receive low quality or defective products.
  • Do not use free or unprotected Wi-Fi for online banking or shopping. Use a secure and trusted network only.
  • Carefully and regularly check bank and credit card statements and online activity.
    • Set alerts for unusual spending activities. (International, out of state and large amounts, for example)
    • Question and notify your bank immediately if you notice any suspicious activity or transactions.
  • When booking online travel, look for feedback and reviews from other users. Use popular and well-known sites rather than those you’ve never heard of or used before especially if the price is much lower than it is on other sites.

I’m curious to know if my Black Friday pricing will turn out to be any different on Cyber Monday so I’ll be checking Cyber Monday deals tomorrow. If pricing turns out to be substantially lower, I will ask for a price match or possibly return the merchandise and then purchase it online. But regardless of Cyber Monday pricing, it feels good to know I did not and will not fall prey to any scams. I also know the recipients of my gifts are in for a real treat because I tested out what I’m giving by treating myself to a few of the same gifts thanks to my online savings. How great is that?

Wishing you a cost effective, happy, healthy and wonderful Holiday Season too.

Until next time,… Stay Cyber Safe.

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