Personal Finance

The Cons of Holiday Shopping Online

risks of buying online

Online shopping has been a low cost and easy option for shopping. With the growing popularity of holiday shopping online, retailers have even launched Cyber Monday to compliment the Black Friday sales day. However, is it really cheaper and easier to shop online?

There is no doubt that shopping online in the comfort of your home is much easier than going to the store, fighting the crowds and hoping they have what you are looking for. In the past, it was even cheaper to shop online than to pay brick and mortar retailers. If you wanted a hard to find item you usually found the best deal online and was even able to get it shipped directly to the person you were buying it for. Now with the economy the way it is, is online shopping still the cheapest? Is it still safe with new technology allowing easier credit card and identity theft? Those are the questions many shoppers are asking today.

With the increase in debit and credit fees, many shoppers are cautiously purchasing with their credit cards. With online shopping there is no other option. Using your credit card online with subject you to those higher fees and possibly cause you to overspend for the holidays. With conventional in store shopping, you have the option of spending cash and only the cash you can afford to spend. For many this year, it is their first choice for shopping to avoid the credit and debit card fees as well as putting themselves in debt over the holidays.

Recently a security firm listed this year’s online shopping scams. Dubbed as the 12 Scams of Christmas, it is a warning for those planning to shop online for the holidays. With the risk of these scams giving consumers more than they bargained for Christmas, like identity fraud, there is skepticism towards online shopping and shopper safety. Though there are risks involved with online shopping, those who know what to look for can reduce their risk. Here are the 12 Scams of Christmas:

Mobile Malware: Most shoppers say they will be using their mobile phones to do their holiday shopping. With Android phones being one of the most popular on the market, they will be highly targeted.

Malicious Apps: App creation for smartphones and iPhones is not only a big business, it is quite simple to accomplish. This year shoppers should be weary of malicious apps made to collect financial and personal information.

Phony Facebook Promotions: These types of scams seem to hit every year. With Facebook as one of the most popular social networks, they are able to reach thousands of people effectively to get the personal information they are looking for.

Fake Antivirus: These are usually in the form of pop up windows that claim you have an infected computer and ask for you to purchase their protection. This is a way for them to get your credit card information easily.

Holiday Screensavers: These screensavers, e-cards and ringtones can hide malicious software.

Mac Malware: In the past this was never an issue, but with Mac products increasing in popularity, cyber thieves are now targeting them.

Phishing Scams: These scams pop up every year in different forms. The most popular is a fake email stating you received a package and need to fill out a form for delivery. This is a way for cyber scammers to get their hands on your information.

Online Coupons: If you are searching for coupons this year, never enter in any information with promises of receiving coupons.

Mystery Shopper Scams: Many of these jobs are scams for the thieves to get your personal information.

Hotel Malware Emails: These are targeted towards holiday travelers.

Gift Scams: These are websites that promise the hard to find gifts and get your financial information.

Facebook Vacation Status: Many people like to post up to date information about their lives. Those posting that they will be going away for the holidays may be inviting thieves into their homes.

Whether you are deciding to shop online or shop in the store, be cautious. The holidays are a prime time for credit card scams and cyber thieves, as well as the time of year that put many into debt. Spend wisely and shop at reputable stores both online and offline to get the best gifts without the risk.

Scott Parker, is a financial advisor.

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