As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, more and more people are becoming increasingly leaning towards shopping online rather than in-person at local retail outlets, such as department stores and malls. It has been forecasted that e-commerce sales will grow by 35% during the upcoming holiday season.

While online retailers are quite excited by this turn of events, there is a group of people in the world that is also quite enthusiastic about this – those that have a desire to scam all of those people who elect to shop online.

Hacker Scam

In this guide, you will learn how scammers take advantage of online shoppers and will be provided information on how to avoid falling prey to their techniques.

How Scammers Work

Those that elect to engage in online criminal activity have one goal in mind – to obtain personal and financial information of consumers.

These individuals develop methods that actually trick internet users into providing their bank account information, online payment system information, address and phone number, Social Security numbers, and credit and/or debit card information.

They may utilize fake emails, create websites, send text messages, engage in social media platform phishing, and even call people directly. The ultimate goal is not so much the personal information, but to use that personal information in order to illegally obtain your money.

Continue reading to learn about a few tips that will keep you safe this holiday season.

Cyber Security online

Safety Tips

The following measures will help you drastically lower the risk that you will be defrauded this holiday season:

  1. The first step is to avoid clicking links in emails that you receive. Scammers are capable of creating email messages that appear to be legit and from companies such as online retailers, PayPal, and even banks. In most instances, these messages will claim that there is an issue with your account and recommend that you click a link and log-in to said account to correct the information. If you enter in the username and password after clicking a link, it is saved, and the scammer will then immediately take control of your money and/or information. If you get an email that appears to be concerning, open a new search window, go to the website directly, and log in. Never click any link from any email.
  2. If you elect to shop online, be certain to obtain insurance on the credit card that you use to make your purchases. This will help to limit the amount of losses that you may incur if you are subjected to a scammer. It is also very effective in limiting fraud on your account.
  3. If you purchase from eBay, Amazon, and other online retail sites, it is best to investigate the location of the seller. It is advised that you limit your purchases from retailers that reside within the United States as it is easier to recover losses and make a case than if you purchase from another country. Also, only purchase from sellers that have a lot of positive feedback and are considered to be reputable.
  4. If you get any type of correspondence that claims you have either won a lottery or have acquired an inheritance, practice caution. This is usually a scam. This is especially true if you are told to pay any type of taxes or any types of fees. You may even be asked to place a cashier’s check in your bank, and wire in the amount for taxes and fees afterwards – do not do this. You have to personally play the lottery to win it and if you have an inheritance to be issued, you will be contacted by an estate lawyer.
  5. There is something called a “Grandparent Scam”. This happens when a criminal hacks into an email and sends out a message to relatives and/or friends. They may claim that they have a financial emergency, need to pay for a lawyer, or are traveling and need funds immediately. DON’T fall victim to this. Attempt to make contact with the sender through another means to verify what you have read.


The holidays are a time when criminals are at full force. They will use many creative means in order to defraud you. Practice caution all throughout the year, but be especially cautious during the holiday season.

In addition to the above-listed tips, be very cautious if you elect to donate to charity. Always make certain that you are donating to a reputable company. If you have any questions or would like to inquire about scams that commonly occur during the holidays, you may contact us here at Somerville Bank by visiting one of our several locations: