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How to enjoy online sales and avoid scams online?

November is famous for its discounts, whilst December – for last-minute Christmas gift shopping. However, at the end of the year, the internet is loaded not only with great offers but also with scams and phishing attacks – taking advantage of distracted impulse buyers. How to avoid phishing and not lose money when doing your Christmas shopping?

iPhone for 300 EUR?

Phones that normally cost over a thousand sold for a few hundred, 100 EUR for a watch that's normally priced at 300 EUR, and so on – it’s just a few examples of deals that are just too good and probably not true.

“When we talk about discounts – there are usually no miracles,” – says Marius Pareščius, vice-president of Paysera and an expert in the cyber security field. “Resellers normally get 5-20% discounts from wholesalers, so you can use this number to base prices on. If one product is more than 20% cheaper in one shop compared to another and that cheaper shop is a small unknown merchant – better double-check it before completing the checkout.”

Paysera vice-president and cyber security expert Marius Pareščius

What to check before checkout?

According to Marius, modern scammers even learnt how to fake security certificates, so buyers need to pay attention to other indicators of the legitimacy of the shop.

One of the simplest things one can do is to try phoning the shop and checking their address. Do these contact details really exist?

Does the e-shop have social media accounts? Maybe you can see some reviews or comments? Or maybe the shop owner is a business and you can check them on publicly available company lists?

Also, if a seller is requesting to transfer money straight to their account and promises to send you the goods – be cautious. Most of the proper e-shops offer their clients to pay in different ways convenient to them – online banking, cards, SMS, and more.

Be careful not just in e-shops but also on banking websites

Pre-Christmas sales can really get one's head spinning and it is common to be less careful about spending and tracking your finances in general.

In this rush – don’t forget to check not just online stores but also online banking sites where you enter all your login data. Make sure you are logging on to the official bank page, there are no typos in the URL, and authentication codes on your phone actually match the ones on the desktop.

If it comes to the worst and you notice some unauthorised payments among your purchases – contact your financial institution immediately. Nobody wants to give a holiday gift to scammers.