Steps to take to avoid online shopping scams

Doing some online shopping this year? Our tech expert is giving tips to stay safe

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - With so much online shopping being done this year, FOX19 talked with our tech expert about things you need to know before you click checkout.

In the midst of a pandemic, browser buying is expected to be big for the 2020 holiday season but so too are online scams.

Deloitte has estimated a 25 to 35% increase in online holiday shopping in 2020.

“During the pandemic cyber-attacks have risen a lot. The FBI has seen a 4x increase in the amount of folks who have reported crimes to the Internet Crimes Complaint Center,” FOX19′s tech expert Dave Hatter said.

Hatter says email offers are a simple and common scam that can cost you big time.

“It’s really easy as a hacker to go out and copy the Target website or the Walmart website or the Amazon website, set it up on a cloud-based server somewhere and then send out phishing emails with bogus links that take you there,” Hatter said.

“It may also be important to think about where you are when you’re doing that online shopping. If you’re outside of your home and your phone is connected to public wifi, you could be putting yourself at risk,” Hatter said.

Another bit of advice from Hatter is to check for a lock symbol next to the web address. It doesn’t guarantee the site is 100% legitimate but every reputable online store will at the very least have that symbol next to their page address.

“The bad guys have gotten wise to this and they’ll spend the $20 it takes to get a certificate so they can make their bogus website seem more legitimate. So you should look for the lock, you shouldn’t do anything of a sensitive nature without that lock, but understand that seeing a lock itself is not a guarantee that the site on the other end is legit,” Hatter said.

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