skip navigation

Florida Gulf Coast University

Website Directory  

Business Applications

Secure Online Shopping

 

CyberSeason  

The holiday season is almost here, and with it the search for that perfect gift at a great price! For many of us that means scouring the Internet to find great deals and skip the long lines; unfortunately, that also exposes us to cyber-criminals!
Cyber-criminals create fake websites by replicating the look of real sites using the names of well-known stores or brands. Searching online for the absolute lowest price may direct you to one of these fake websites. Before the holiday shopping frenzy overtakes us, here are some tips to help safely navigate the sometimes murky waters of online shopping:

  • Purchase from websites you already know, trust, and have done business with previously
  • Look for obvious warning signs, like deals that are obviously too good to be true, popular products sold out elsewhere, or poor grammar and spelling
  • Verify the website has a legitimate mailing address and phone number for sales or support-related questions. If the site looks suspicious, call and speak to a human. If you can’t reach someone, that’s the first sign you may be dealing with a fake website
  • Watch for a domain name or store name that’s not quite right, such as http://store-amazoncom.com
  • Type the URL into a search engine and see what other people have said about the website. Look for terms like “fraud,” “scam,” “never again,” or “fake.” A lack of reviews can also be incriminating
  • Before purchasing, make sure your connection to the website is encrypted, indicated by a lock icon and/or the letters HTTPS in green immediately before the website’s address
  • When you’ve finished shopping and your transactions are complete, log out of the site and/or close your browser

Taking these simple precautions and being vigilant when shopping online will help protect your personal information, your computer or mobile device, AND your bank account!
For more information on avoiding scams, visit the Get Secure! webpage for a short video about other cyber-criminal attempts that might take the “Ho-ho-ho!” out of the holidays!