Shopping Securely During the Holidays

November and December are open season for savvy bargain hunters, but it also puts unsuspecting consumers in the crosshairs of would-be scammers hoping to feast on ill-gotten gains.

Many fraudsters use phony websites for harvesting credit card numbers and other personal data to commit identity theft or sell personal information on the dark web. Here are a few tips to help you shop with confidence during the holidays.

Open With Care

Beware of "order confirmation" or "delivery notification" emails with links to package tracking information for items you don't remember purchasing.

Don't Take the Bait

Fraudulent booking sites or email offers with dream vacations that seem too good to be true may serve as clickbait to lure you into disclosing sensitive information.

Wolf in Santa Clothing

That Jolly St. Nick letter could be a ruse to obtain personal data from kids that could leave them vulnerable to identity theft and compromised credit years from now.

Stay Alert

Know where your credit and debit cards are at all items and cover the keypad when entering your PIN for purchases or withdrawing funds from ATMs.

Unsolicited Assistance

Scammers sometimes prey on data breach fears and reach out offering assistance to unsuspecting victims. If you receive an unsolicited call asking for personal information, hang up and call the company directly.

Warning Signs to Watch

Does the website promise huge discounts for high-price ticket items or in-demand gifts? Is the website or email littered with spelling or grammatical errors? Are key pieces of contact information missing? Does the website lack a privacy policy or additional security designations? Be on the lookout for these signs that usually mean the website isn't authentic.