Online shopping has added convenience in many ways. We no longer have to physically search through store after store, or even worry about parking during the busy holiday rush at the mall. And can you say, “two-day shipping?” Though with this convenience comes the risk of deceit in the form of a phishing email, a cloned URL, a corrupt link or anything else the scammers come up with – and they are creative. Great Plains Communications wants to provide a few common scams to keep watch for, and tips on protecting yourself from cyber criminals this season.

Fake Website or Cloned URL

There are different ways to spot a fake site. The main thing you should look closely at is the URL. Many people are in a rush to get their holiday shopping done and pay little attention to the address bar at the top of the screen. Scammers will try to “clone” or create sites indecipherably different from the one you are looking for. For example, rather than, but when you googled it, the link title said “ Online Shopping for Electronics, Apparel…” Scammers can put whatever title they want but the difference is in the small URL underneath.

Phishing Emails – Getting More Creative All the Time

One of the new scams that has been reported this holiday season is one that mimics an update shipping email from Amazon. It will say that there has been an issue in the shipping process and they need your information again – including shipping address and credit card information. Do not give your information to any company through a link in an email. If you are worried about your purchased item, such as in this example, open a new tab and type in the website’s URL and check through your account.

Public Wi-Fi

While online browsing is fine, avoid doing any online purchasing while on public Wi-Fi. Even if they have a password, hotel room numbers or the restaurant name + “public” written on the chalkboard by the door are not keeping your online activity safe. Anyone on the same public network with a computer and the right know-how could potentially view what you’re doing online and take any data that you’re sending over the network.

It is easy to get wrapped up in the convenience of online shopping and the stress of the holidays. But by simply staying alert to the dangers of scams, just as you would in the physical world, the risk of falling victim to one decreases substantially. Double-check URLs of the sites you visit, be overly cautious of emails from companies and unknown senders, don’t share or enter any personal information while on public Wi-Fi and a last tip would be to keep all software and devices updated.

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