How to avoid fraud, scams, and phishing attempts this shopping season


Caution: The shopping holidays (and the scams) are already here

During the month of November, online shopping days such as Shopping IL, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday were launched in a slightly different format to support local businesses. Unfortunately, this time of year also attracts many phishing attacks aimed at stealing your money.

ESET, an information security company, explains that it is “crucial to remember that cybercriminals always take advantage of these shopping periods to steal information or funds.” 

With a significant number of purchases being made from smartphones, it’s important to follow safe mobile purchase practices. According to a study by DataReportal in 2023, 50.9% of global online shoppers use their mobile phones to make purchases at least once a week, with the trend being particularly noticeable among internet users aged 35-44.

”In 2023, 50.9% of online shoppers worldwide will use their mobile phones” (credit: INGIMAGE)

Protecting yourself during the shopping frenzy

  1. Stick to well-known websites: Purchase from reputable and familiar websites rather than unknown ones that offer unrealistically low prices. Unknown websites may be malicious and can result in financial loss or credit card fraud.
  2. Avoid clicking on unfamiliar links: Be cautious of special deal and coupon links, as scammers often take advantage of this time of year to deceive shoppers. Phishing attempts can arrive via email, social networks, WhatsApp, and even Google and Facebook ads.
  3. Verify crazy discount ads on social networks: If you come across a product through a social media link, always cross-check on the official website to ensure the sale or deal is legitimate. Studies show that Facebook ads can also lead to harmful downloads.
  4. Beware of phishing attempts and email scams: Tempting offers sent via email that direct you to unfamiliar websites may be attempts to collect your personal and credit card information. Always enter the website independently to ensure its safety and reliability.
  5. Ensure you are on a secure website: Check if the website address begins with “https://” as most shopping websites encrypt communication traffic. Additionally, secure websites display a green lock symbol on the left side of the address bar (right if the browser is in Hebrew).
  6. Use two-step verification: Take advantage of two-step verification or double verification options offered on shopping websites. This adds an extra layer of security even if your password is compromised.
  7. Keep your operating system up to date: Regularly update your computer’s software as it often contains crucial security patches that protect against potential threats.
  8. Use a secure WiFi network: Avoid making online purchases while connected to unsecured public WiFi networks, even if they are password protected. Attackers connected to the same network can intercept and misuse your payment information.
  9. Create strong and unique passwords: Use complex passwords that are difficult to guess and avoid reusing them across multiple sites and services. A strong password should include numbers, lowercase and uppercase letters, and special characters.
  10. Opt for secure payment methods: Use payment platforms like PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, or credit cards that offer buyer protection. Avoid making payments via bank transfer. Consider designating a specific credit card solely for online purchases for easy cancellation if needed.
  11. Set up alerts through your credit card company: Enable SMS or email alerts for each credit card purchase. Set up alerts for both low individual purchase amounts and total purchases above a certain threshold, especially for overseas transactions. Regularly review your charges for any discrepancies.
  12. Be cautious when downloading apps: Only download apps from official app stores such as Google Play or Apple Store. Pay attention to brand name details and avoid apps that request suspicious permissions.
  13. Avoid shopping on public WiFi and disable Bluetooth: Public WiFi networks are vulnerable to hackers, who can intercept your information, including credit card details. Disabling Bluetooth prevents hackers from creating fake networks and accessing personal data.
”Start buying from familiar websites.” Caution! fraud (credit: SHUTTERSTOCK)

How will you ensure a safe purchase on a smartphone or tablet?

  1. Download apps only from official app stores, such as Google Play or Apple’s Apple Store. The official stores carry out testing processes to ensure that they do not contain malicious applications.
  2. Keep apps and your operating system up to date: Regularly update your applications and operating system to ensure you have the latest security patches. Be wary of apps that store personal information and check their authenticity before downloading.
  3. Be skeptical of too-good-to-be-true deals: While it’s tempting to believe in unbelievable discounts, chances are high that they are fake products or scams. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

By following these precautions, you can protect yourself from fraud and enjoy a secure online shopping experience during the holiday season.