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Holiday Shopping Safety - Online and Off

Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark the official start of the holiday shopping season.  Shopping online or off is serious business, especially for scammers and thieves!

Popular Scams

  • Online Gift Card Scams.  It is best to buy your gift cards directly from merchants or online stores.
  • Stripped Gift Card Scams.  When you purchase a preloaded card from a retailer, always have them scan the card to be sure the full amount is available and look to be sure the packaging has not been tampered with or damaged.
  • Phishing, SMiShing, and Vishing. You can be scammed via email (phishing), text messages (SMiShing) or phone calls (Vishing) so be aware of unsolicited contacts.
  • Charity Scams.  'Tis the season for giving but don't fall victim while opening your heart and wallet!
  • Fraudulent Classified Ads and auction sales.  Check seller ratings, feedback and number of sales.  Be wary of sellers with 100 percent positive feedback unless they have years of feedback and sales to back it up.  Few feedback responses, especially those clustered around a few dates, or few sales--especially with 100 percent feedback--can be scammers who will bill your card but never get the merchandise to you.
  • Remember when shopping online that the site should always start with https when you're paying!  The 's' stands for secure.



  • If it looks too good to be true--it probably is!
  • Do not respond to unsolicited emails, texts, or phone calls.
  • Don't click on links in unsolicited emails and texts.
  • Be careful of email attachments--those are great places to hide viruses.
  • Always hover over links in emails to be sure you'll be sent to a legitimate site.  Sometimes the bogus site will contain a virus or other malware.
  • Log in directly to the official website instead of using email links.
  • Contact the actual business directly to see if the sent email, text or phone calls are legitimate.
  • If you are asked to hurry or act quickly be especially cautious

Links for More Information


Published on December 11, 2015

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