How to Avoid Scams When Shopping Online for the Holidays, To Save Money, and For Home Delivery Convenience

It does not matter if you are electing to shop online for the holidays, to save a little money, or because you want to enjoy the convenience of home delivery – it is imperative that you err on the side of caution in order to successfully avoid scams. Online retailers make it exceptionally easy to find what we want, when we want it, for the price that we find appealing.

Unfortunately, the comfort of shopping from home can quickly transition into a financial nightmare if you are not cautious.

Holiday Shopping Online

As with anything, there is a certain level of risk in shopping online. As online shopping opportunities increase, so does the possibility of encountering a scam. Continue reading to learn steps you can take to protect yourself, your identity, and your finances while enjoying all that shopping convenience that is now available.

Learn How to Identify Fake Apps and Websites

One of the most common scams in existence today is the duplication of well-known retailers and their apps and websites. Those that seek to obtain your personal information and your financial information have been known to create a fake app or website to lead you into believing it is the REAL app or website.

Most fake apps and websites include malware. This will steal your personal information and may even lock the device you are using. In turn, you will be ordered to pay money or a “ransom” to get the device unlocked. In the meantime, they will also take your money with no intention of sending you the products that you believe you ordered.

First, always type in the name of the retailer that you want to shop at online. Before engaging in any activity, make sure that the website looks legitimate. For example, look for misspellings, periods in the middle of a name, and whether or not the “http” includes an “s” on the end to validate that it is secure. Do not provide websites or apps with the ability to have access to those on your contact lists, any texts that you have, your password database, or your financial information. By taking these measures, you can avoid falling into the hands of a scammer.

Use a Credit Card Instead of a Debit Card or a Check

While it is true that – in most instances – it is safe to use a debit card or a check from your bank to pay online retailers, it is best to avoid it. Instead, utilize a credit card. This provides an enhanced level of protection.

These often utilize chip technology that makes it difficult to have easy access to your information.

Furthermore, credit card usage prevents a scammer from having access to your bank account – where they may quickly wipe out your funds. Credit card companies offer fraud protection.

Evaluate all statements for suspicious charges and to review your credit score frequently. Should you fall victim to a scam, you may stop the process quickly.

Guest Checkouts

When you create an account with a retailer, your information is stored on an internal server. Yes, this offers a high level of convenience; however, should a data breach occur with that server, any information you have provided that is saved on it could be at risk. For this reason, you should attempt to use a guest checkout when you shop online. This is especially true if you make a lot of purchases.

Additionally, remember, it is best to use a credit card with fraud protection when checking out than your debit card or your bank account information.

Christmas Present

Take Advantage of Automatic Alerts

If you do shop online quite a bit, you should take full advantage of automatic alerts. This way, if an issue occurs, you will know about it right away and will not be held up in reporting the situation by waiting on your monthly statement. These alerts will send you an email or a text when activity is detected.

If you know it was you engaging in the activity, no further action will be necessary. However, if you know that it was NOT you that took the action, you can start taking steps immediately.

Sign up for alerts for online banking, credit cards, your debit card, and any online payment systems that you use – such as PayPal, Venmo, or CashApp.

Phishing Emails and Advertisements

You may find that when you shop online, you get a lot of emails and/or are subjected to a lot of advertisements. These typically promise extremely low prices, bargains, and other incentives. The goal is to get you to click and provide your information.

Many emails and advertisements may be legitimate, but if you did not approve these communications previously, they are probably sent by scammers.

If you want a particular item, at a particular price, you should search for it on your own. You should never click any links and especially do not give any information to a link that you have been provided with if you did not request it. If you do, you will quickly discover that your information gets stolen or your money gets taken.

Remember, if you want to shop online, you should be the one to initiate all actions – on YOUR OWN.


Shopping online for the holidays, to save money, or to experience the convenience of home delivery is a very convenient opportunity. You must be vigilant, though. This is especially true when it comes to your identity and your money. You should consider that which was outlined in this guide. Additionally, you may contact us here at Somerville Bank to learn about additional steps that may be taken to protect yourself while shopping online. We also offer services that will help to protect your identity and your money. To learn more, you may contact us now at one of our many locations: