MCC Daily Tribune

Shopping Online Securely - Is This Deal For Real?

It's that time of year when we will be looking to purchase gifts for the holidays. These days most of us will choose to shop online looking for those great deals. Unfortunately cybercriminals will be looking to scam innocent online shoppers.

Fake Online Stores

When searching online for that special gift you come across a deal that is too good to be true. Be aware that cybercriminals will create fake websites that look legitimate. If you find a website with dramatically cheaper prices than anywhere else or offering products that are sold out nationwide, it's probably not legit. The product may be counterfeit, stolen, or may never be delivered. Protect yourself by doing the following:

  • When possible, purchase from websites that you already know, trust, and have done business with previously.
  • Verify the website has a legitimate mailing address and a phone number for sales or support-related questions. If the site looks suspicious, call and speak to a human. If you can't get a hold of someone to talk to that is the first big sign you may be dealing with a fake website.
  • Look for obvious warning signs, like deals that are obviously too good to be true or poor grammar and spelling.
  • Be very suspicious if a website appears to be an exact replica of a well-known website you have used in the past, but its domain name or the name of the store is slightly different. For example, you may be used to shopping online at Amazon, at But be very suspicious if you find yourself at websites pretending to be Amazon, such as
  • Type the store's name or URL into a search engine and see what other people have said about the website in the past. Look for terms like "fraud," "scam," "never again," or "fake." A lack of reviews can also be a sign indicating that the website is very new and might not be trustworthy.
  • Before purchasing any items, make sure your connection to the website is encrypted. Most browsers show a connection is encrypted by having a lock and/or the letters HTTPS in green right before the website's name.

Remember, just because the site looks professional does not mean it's legitimate. If you aren't comfortable with the website, don't use it.

Look for more tips on Shopping Online Securely in tomorrow's Tribune.

Pogroszewski, Donna
Chief Information Security Officer