Here’s how to keep yourself safe while online shopping for Christmas deals

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year… if you’re a scammer. With online retail becoming an even more enticing option during the pandemic, cyber security experts are warning Christmas shoppers to protect themselves.

“They’re going to take advantage of Canadians in a big way, primarily because they know we’re all in front of a computer and we’re all looking for a better price on these things,” said security and privacy advisor Claudiu Popa.

Even before the pandemic, brick-and-mortar sales were down and e-commerce numbers have doubled since last spring. With so many people opting to do their shopping online, Popa said shoppers need to ask themselves questions when they find a deal that seems too good to be true.

Those include: How did you hear about the deal? Was it something you went looking for? Did it come to you as part of a promotion?

“If it’s someone else’s idea about what I should be buying, then I should be suspicious,” said Popa.

Popa also advised Canadians to be wary of emails written with an urgent tone.

“The emails they craft make sure they reach into people’s brains and activate that (fear of missing out) trigger,” he said.

Scams can come in many forms and can arrive via social media, email and on smartphones.

“If it looks like it’s someone you recognize but they’re marking an odd request, take another look at their email address,” Popa advised.

He added that a buyer should double-check a web address before handing out their credit card number or personal information.

“Any business or company that has a form or an interface should have an https lock that indicates that your connection to that website is secure,” he said.