Shopping Online: Beware of Fake Online Stores

The holiday season is here. Many of us will shop online in search of great deals and to avoid noisy crowds. Unfortunately, cyber criminals will be active as well, creating fake shopping websites and using other tactics to scam people.

Fake Online Stores: Cyber criminals create fake online stores that mimic the look of real sites or that use the names of well-known stores or brands. When you search for the best online deals, you may find yourself at one of these fake sites. By purchasing from such web sites, you can end up with counterfeit or stolen items, and in some cases, your purchases might never be delivered. Take the following steps to protect yourself from fake online stores:

  • When possible, purchase from the online stores you already know, trust and have done business with previously. Bookmark online stores you have visited before and trust.
  • Look out for prices that are significantly better than those you see at the established online stores. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it may be fake.
  • Be suspicious if the web site resembles the one you’ve used in the past, but the website domain name or the name of the store is slightly different. For example, you may be used to shopping at Amazon, whose website address is amazon.com, but end up shopping at a fake website that has a similar website address, where the letter o is replaced with the number 0.
  • Type the name of the online store or its web address into a search engine to see what others have said about it. Look for terms like “fraud,” “scam,” “never again” and “fake.”
  • Use a unique password for each of your online accounts. Can’t remember all your passwords? Consider writing them down and storing them in a safe location. - Written by SANS Security Awareness