The upcoming Christmas on-line shopping fever boosts the numbers of all kinds of on-line shopping scams. By pretending to be genuine on-line retail stores, they lure shoppers offering 80% and larger discounts or shipping costs only, and trick unsuspecting buyers into revealing their credit card information and money.

“Christmas shopping season is a busy time not only for legitimate businesses but also for scams. Creating a genuine-looking on-line shopping platform is easy and does not require specific knowledge. Sometimes scams do not even need a website - they use social media platforms to attract shoppers by huge discounts. Therefore, shoppers looking for cheaper on-line purchases should be cautious in every step and critical towards on-line stores that are not well known or were set up just recently, especially those trying to allure shoppers by discounts Alarm  bells should be raised once you’ve seen a watch, smart phone or notepad offered for EUR 100 by one on-line store, while a regular price is EUR 600”, - says Tomas Martinkėnas, Chief Information Security Officer at Luminor.

According to him, on-line shopping scams exist all year round but their numbers boost before the Christmas season. This happens because shoppers rush to do their Christmas shopping fast and cheaper and in this haste they become less resistant to scams’ lure.

Within the past month, 25 customers contacted the bank as they suspected to have transferred their money or entered the credit card information on a scam website. Average losses from payments made to a non-existent store make EUR 100. The amounts of loss can be higher in cases where a buyer transfers the credit card information to scams and does not spot transactions made in their name by scams for a while.

How to protect yourself?

“If you are buying from an on-line store that is not very well known, you should double-check the store. Scams have learnt to clone Verified by Visa and Mastercard SecureCodesecurity security certifications. Smarter scammers forge a padlock icon on their on-line store website address to imitate security. It has now become a real challenge to distinguish between a genuine store an a scam. Therefore, my advice is to check as much information as you can access on-line and be critical about it before you shop at an unknown store. If you suspect that you have transferred money for your purchases or forwarded your credit card information to scams, report it to the bank and to the Police without delay”, - says Luminor’s Information Security Officer.

On-line shopping scam features:

  1. Very low prices with ridiculous discounts that seem to be “too good to be true”
  2. Website is not functioning properly: inactive links, buttons, errors popping-up
  3. No contacts given or can be reached
  4. On-line store address was registered just recently. You can check the website creation date, e.g., www.whois.net
  5. You suddenly received an on-line link to a store from a friend who insists that you should visit it
  6. Google search does not find any information about the store in other sources or they seem unreliable

A general recommendation is to have a separate payment card for on-line shopping with cash balance just for this purpose. In such case even if you are caught up, scammers will not be able to cause significant damage.

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