Online Shopping Tips for a Cyber Crime Free Holiday Season

Just another reminder to shop safely this holiday season. Today the Department of Justice announced that it has seized 150 websites that were peddling counterfeit goods.

“For most, the holidays represent a season of good will and giving, but for these criminals, it’s the season to lure in unsuspecting holiday shoppers,” ICE director John Morton said in a statement about the seizure.”

According to the websites included,,  and

Cyber Crime is huge business right now, but here are a few steps you can take to protect yourself:

1. It is usually safest to buy from large well known websites. Always make sure that their website name is spelled correctly. Most browsers will automatically highlight the domain name in the link so you can check this. See picture below:

2. Always make sure that the website is using SSL – secure communications when you get to the actual ordering process. The website should switch to secure HTTPS:// instead of just the regular HTTP://, and will look like this:

3. Do not click on links in e-mails that redirect you to a store. It is a common practice for hackers to create e-mails that look legit that link to a counterfeit or malicious servers. Just go directly to the store, you should be able to find any public sales listed there.

4. Beware of horribly misspelled and un-formatted e-mails supposedly from foundations, or organizations. Most SPAM guards catch these now, but don’t spend time on these, just trash them.

5. If a deal is too good to be true, it just might be! Common sense goes a long way in protecting you from online scams.

6. Use strong passwords on your online accounts. A long combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols is best.

7. And finally, avoid using bank Visa cards that tie directly to your bank account online if you can. Use gift cards, limited value credit cards, or cards that have one time use virtual numbers or shop safe features. Even standard credit cards can have better safeguards and refund policies than a bank card. When in doubt ask your bank about it’s credit card policies.

Surf safely and have a great Holiday!


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