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How to avoid getting faked out by online scams

by Kurt Knutsson

Two years of pandemic living has changed the nature of online shopping from a luxury to a necessity for many Americans. According to a study released by Adobe, e-commerce sales are projected to land upwards of $930 billion this year (compared to $813B in 2020, and $573B in 2019), with projections of over $1 trillion for 2022.

More online shopping means more opportunities for criminals to develop ways to dupe unwitting consumers with scams and identity theft.

Criminals are getting good at faking out online shoppers and creating havoc.  We are learning how the pandemic has shifted the ways online criminals work. It is not just that various online shopping websites are being affected.

Impersonations are on the rise. The tricks and legit look of the scams have the smartest of us falling for them.


Watch for These Top Consumer Brands Targeted for Impersonation Scams

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Microsoft
  • PayPal
  • Walmart

According to the Better Business Bureau, there were 46,575 scams reported since 2020.  The average financial hit for victims is $115.

That may seem low on the surface, but considering the fact that millennials are now as likely to fall victim as seniors 65+, the volume and sophistication of the scammers make online shopping more dangerous than ever.

The reported scams went up sharply simply because the amount of online shopping rose so dramatically. We all could guess it would be more, and now the facts prove it seeing that 43% more time was spent online during the pandemic and 57.1% purchased online because of the pandemic.

E-commerce experts don’t think this is a blip but a consumer shift. Those same analysts see online shopping headed toward a record $1 trillion in 2022. That means we all need to be more vigilant about scammers.



  • Knowing how scams target is half the battle. Stay up on the most recent techniques and the schemes they are using. If you are unsure of the shopping site, Google the name and the word ‘scam’.
  • Avoid clicking unsolicited offers in email, text and social media
  • Don’t shop anywhere unless secure. The web address will begin with “https“… that “s” means secure
  • Avoid oversharing in social media that scammers can use to target you
  • Don’t fall for fake product reviews. Use sites like FakeSpot.com that grade the truthfulness of Amazon reviews.

Best Shopping Tools Amazon Never Told You About

That’s not Pfizer sending you a vaccine survey.

COVID-19 vaccine survey scams are circulating that involve trying to get information out of you. Watch out for fake surveys disguised as a pharmaceutical survey or review about vaccines that ask you to reveal personal information such as your address, name, social security number etc.

It’s more than likely a scam trying to edge away at your privacy by harvesting your data to use against you or sell to another crook. Currently, we are not aware of any legit surveys from vaccine makers other than a vaccine safety program from the CDC called CDC V-Safe. More on this here:

COVID-19 Vaccine Survey Scam Ripping Off Smart People


How to Spot a Scam from Legit-looking Email

Don’t click the address, but instead hover over the sender’s email address so that the complete address is revealed.

Most scams look like the real deal, but have something slightly off in the email address such as a made-up name that includes the legit company name, letters could be swapped that the eye doesn’t notice at first glance, or another word could be added to the email address.

To be a real CyberGuy detective, copy the email address and paste into a Google search.

Share these tips with friends and family.

More scam stories here and ways to take back your privacy:

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