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Online holiday shopping scams to look for

Major retailers are rolling out holiday promotions as millions of Americans begin searching for the perfect gift. One expert is warning online shoppers of scams.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — While many shoppers still choose to grab holiday deals in store, the online shopping boom is expected to continue this year after a record-breaking 2021. Online shopping figures from Adobe show consumers spent more than $200 billion last holiday season, accounting for almost a third of online sales for the entire year.

"For online shopping, users just need to be aware about what information that they’re putting up online," said Dr. Bruce Young, cyber security professor at Harrisburg University.

Young said scammers are looking for critical information as you shop.

"The credit card information is very valuable, but a lot of your personal identifiable information is also very valuable," he said.

Dr. Young recommends setting a low credit limit on cards you use for online shopping to minimize potential loses. As you browse for hot holiday finds, many retailers may ask you to set up an account on their website. Young said be cautious.

"A good thing to do is to create an email address that you can use just for doing online shopping and create a very strong password," he said.

If you forget your password for a specific site, you can reset it using that email address and keep your information safe.

The more scammers know about you, Dr. Young said, the more sophisticated the scam. Some may pose as a representative from a familiar company and ask for your banking information, claiming you’re owed a refund.

"People generally think 'I’ll give my information because they’re just going to put something in,'" Young said. "They’re really doing it, ultimately, to take it back out. It’s expected that there will be scams that will operate this way as we go into the holiday season."

Dr. Young said the best way to keep your information away from scammers is creating a unique password for every online account. He also recommends making sure your web browser isn’t storing credit card or other personal info could leave you vulnerable.

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