Do you have the habit of sharing your phone numbers and email ids on random shopping websites to get special discounts? Be warned, you may be giving out key personal information. This, coupled with other details like billing and shipping addresses, could lead to identity thefts.

The holiday season is rife with risks while shopping online, Michael Waring, Vice-President of Asia Pacific and Japan at Ivanti, cautions.

“While you might be scoping out the deals for Cyber Monday, bad actors are fine-tuning their hacking and phishing schemes in hopes of catching online shoppers unaware this holiday season,” he warns the shoppers ahead of the season.

The more information you freely provide online, the more you put yourself at risk for identity theft. Hackers are constantly breaching databases. Always think twice before giving away personal identifying information online.

Data protection through privacy legislation may someday be mandated by law as illustrated by India’s revised data protection bill.

“But until that day comes, the burden is on every individual to protect and secure personal information,” he said.

Be wary of ‘hot deals’

If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Especially if it is a sponsored or promoted ad on social media. Often scammers take advantage of the “hot deals” with a limited time offer to target unsuspecting shoppers.

“They then either pull a bait and switch, in which you receive something vastly different and cheaper than what you ordered, or you receive nothing at all and the seller took your money and ran,” he said in a report.

Either way, the seller now also has your payment information, name, and shipping address: all information that can be sold and used for identity theft.

How to be safe

He asks the users to check if the URL has ‘https’ in it. If it doesn’t, close it immediately. “You should check if the company has a proper address, phone number, and a return policy. Take a minute to search reviews of the company. People tend to be vocal when a company scams them,” he said.