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Gift-Giving, but Do It Safely: Your Guide to Scam-Proof Holiday Shopping

December 13, 2023

Christmas stockings hanging on the mantle
The holidays are a time for joy, cheer, and... scammers? Yep, unfortunately, the giving season also attracts those who want to steal your holiday cheer (and possibly your credit card info). But fear not! With a little caution and these tips, you can navigate the online shopping jungle and find the perfect gifts without getting tangled in scams.

Promotional Emails - Friend or Foe?

Let's face it, our inboxes are overflowing with "Special Offer" emails. But before you click that tempting link, remember: If it seems too good to be true, it likely is.

Red Flags to Watch Out For:

    • Urgency: "Limited time offer!" "Act now or miss out!" These are classic tricks to pressure you into hasty decisions.
    • Attachments: Avoid them like fruitcake at a family gathering. They can be malware traps.
    • Typos and Grammar Errors: Professional companies don't make these mistakes.
    • Off-Brand Logos: Is the logo blurry or slightly different? That's a red flag.

Stick to the Stores You Know

Fake websites lurk around every corner, disguised as your favorite retailers. Before you enter your precious digits, double-check:

    • Website Address: Look for HTTPS and a lock symbol in the address bar. Those mean your connection is secure.
    • Phone Number: Can you actually call them and speak to a human? If not, be wary.
    • Reviews: Google the website name and "scam" or "fraud." See what others are saying.

Arm Yourself with Tech Armor

Keeping your devices secure is like putting on virtual holiday armor:

    • Anti-Virus: Keep it updated and scan your devices regularly.
    • Strong Passwords: Ditch "123456" and create unique, complex passwords for each site.
    • Official Apps: Download a store's official app from Google Play or the Apple App Store.
    • Public Wi-Fi: Avoid it for online shopping. If you must, consider using a VPN for extra protection. A VPN is "virtual private network" that encrypts your personal data. Many anti-virus products offer a VPN option for their users. 

Guard Your Precious Plastic

Your card is your holiday shopping weapon, so wield it wisely:

    • Review Statements: Check for any suspicious charges after shopping sprees.
    • Alerts: Take advantage of transaction alerts to catch unauthorized activity.
    • Dedicated Card: Consider using one card for online purchases for easier monitoring.
    • Credit vs. Debit: If you use a debit card instead of a credit card, keep in mind that money is withdrawn immediately after the purchase and it can be more difficult to get the money returned.


    • Don't rush: Take your time to research and compare prices before buying.
    • If it's fishy, report it: Suspicious emails or websites? Tell the authorities and the company they're impersonating.

With these tips and a healthy dose of skepticism, you can have a holly jolly (and scam-free) holiday season!

Bonus Tip: Share this with your loved ones to help them stay safe too!

We wish you a joyful holiday season and are always here to help if you have any questions.

Happy shopping!