According to Adobe Analytics, consumers are spending more online this holiday season than any before, but that has been met with increasing fraud efforts.
2021 stats from Transunion found nearly 20% of $10.7 billion worth of U.S. e-commerce transactions between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday were potentially fraudulent, and local experts say that those making purchases online should be aware of an increasing number of scams this year.
However, while some local shoppers say the in-person experience is enjoyable, convenience is what they value.
“I have done a fair amount of shopping online just because of the time constraints and the ease of it,” Trisha Pollack, a Colchester resident, said. “And sometimes the online prices are a little bit better.”
Cyber-security experts like Norwich University’s director of technology programs, Henry Collier, say shoppers like Pollack could be facing an increasing amount of danger from common fraud schemes used to elicit funds, or personal information.
“Phishing is an email that you get that pretends to offer you something that isn’t real,” Collier said. “You might get an email that says, ‘this account has been compromised, click here to enter your credentials and fix it to change your password.’ Those are all false.”
While the pandemic caused many small businesses to move some of their operations online, some have decided to build theirs in the e-commerce space.
Anna Charland, a recent University of Vermont grad, just opened her boutique, “Charlotte Case”, on October 1 with her sister Mallory. However, they’ve been selling clothes on the shop’s website for over a year.
“A lot of Facebook marketing, Instagram, and we’ve has a lot of supportive friends and family share our stuff,” she said.
While she says most of the store’s recent sales have come through their Essex Junction location, she added that viral TikToks have given her online store a boost during the holidays. This has encouraged many to buy her self-described “trendy and affordable” options with their fingertips.
“That was a big thing for us with transferring to in-store,” Charland said. “We wanted to keep our online store going because we know there are people that can’t get to us every day. everything that launches in-store also launches online.”
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security also released a joint news release last week, saying “Recent 2021 trends show malicious cyber actors launching serious and impactful attacks during holidays and weekends.”
Paula Fleming, the Better Business Bureau’s chief marketing and sales officer, emphasized self-awareness when making e-purchases.
“We encourage people to look at the URL, grammatical errors, and take it offline,” she said. “Take your time and make sure who you know you’re dealing with on the other end.”