How to Spot Holiday Shopping Scams

No sooner have the plates cleared the Thanksgiving table than people jump online, where they can start shopping for the holidays without ever leaving the comfort of their homes.

Here's how to avoid online shopping scams this holiday season:

Wondering if that email from a merchant is legit?
Every year, people get emails from phony vendors asking them to re-enter their credit card information because it's been lost or corrupted. These emails are virtually never from real vendors. They're from fraudsters who hope the recipient will panic, click through to their site, and give away their credit card information before they realize they've been had.

Looking for that perfect collectible on an auction site?
Check the credentials of the seller. If nobody at all has said a single negative thing, and if all the reviewers mysteriously posted around the same time, that could be a sign they're phony reviewers giving feedback on a fraudulent seller.

Want tickets to that sold-out concert?
Watch out when you search for the name of the artist and venue—even if you click the top-ranked search engine result, you could end up on the site of a scalper instead of a legitimate seller. Your tickets may arrive in the mail someday...or they may not.

To avoid getting scammed over the holidays, stick with merchants you know and trust. Go directly to their sites instead of clicking on links from search engines or social media sites. Look for the lock icon on transaction pages. And don't pay for anything with a debit card—use a credit card so that, in the event the wrong people do end up with your information, they at least won't be able to drain your bank account.

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