How to outsmart scammers this holiday shopping season

We’re not just heading into shopping season but shopping scam season. Last year, people in the U.S. clicked and bought nearly $94 billion dollars’ worth of goods during the holidays, and experts are expecting up to a 20% jump this year. The thing is, fraud attempts increased more than thirty percent last year, too, and, experts say, the scammers just keep getting better.

Alison Chaltas is an executive and busy wide and mom. So, when it comes to shopping, it’s all about the click-and-buy. She says, “I shop online all the time, I would say at least once a day,” adding, “I do all of my clothing shopping online, all my gift shopping online.”

If you like to shop from your kitchen, it’ll come as no surprise that e-commerce keeps growing as a percentage of overall retail sales.

The thing is, experts say, scammers make it their full-time job to catch you off guard.

Sorin Mihailovici, the founder of, says the trend is for fraudsters to take existing scams and make them harder to detect.

Some to watch for:
Fake puppy postings
Links promising must-have items at below market prices
And, Mihailovici says, be especially careful of links for too-good-to-be-true deals on social media. “So, what scammers do, they go on, on social media platforms. They advertise great products that are real products only cheaper and they would send them to their own duplicate sites,” he says.

The key tip while shopping, Mihailovici says, is to look up at the URL and look for HTTPS. “So, if they don’t have that, if the duplicate site doesn’t have the HTTPS and it only has HTTP, you can rest assured that that’s a scam,” he says.

Also, look at reviews of a site before buying, and don’t depend on testimonials on the site itself, according to Mihailovici.

Alison says she always does her homework before shopping and says, “I also kind of count on my credit card provider to be an extra level of security.”

Mihailovici also warns that the iTunes gift cards scam is popping up again. If you get an email with a receipt for a gift card you never sent and it gives you a link to cancel– do not click on that. And, of course, never do any shopping on public Wi-Fi.

For the latest scams, check out