Too Good to Be True: How to Avoid Falling for Fake Holiday Discounts Online

November 14, 2023 | Modified: December 5, 2023

The holiday season is filled with the cheer and the thrill of finding the perfect gifts at a great price. However, in a time where online shopping has become the norm, the quest for holiday deals is not without its hidden dangers. The allure of too-good-to-be-true discounts can lead unsuspecting shoppers down a rabbit hole of scams and fraudulent schemes. In this guide, we’ll explore how to navigate the online shopping landscape and avoid falling for fake holiday discounts.

The Real Temptation of Unreal Discounts

As the holiday season approaches, online shoppers are bombarded with enticing offers that seem too good to pass up. Whether it’s an eye-catching banner proclaiming an 80% discount on the latest gadgets or an email promising amazing deals for a limited time, the temptation to snag these incredible bargains can be overwhelming. Nonetheless, exercising caution and applying a discerning eye is crucial to separate genuine discounts from potential scams.

Spotting Fake Holiday Discounts Online

  • Check the Source: Legitimate online retailers and trusted brands typically host sales on their official websites or through reputable platforms. Be wary of discounts offered via unsolicited emails or suspicious websites, as these could be fronts for phishing scams.
  • Verify the URL: Before clicking on a link or making a purchase, carefully inspect the URL. Fraudulent websites often use misspelled or slightly altered domain names to mimic well-known retailers. Ensure the web address is accurate and matches the official site.
  • Review Customer Feedback: Prioritize shopping from websites with positive reviews and a proven track record of customer satisfaction. User reviews can provide valuable insights into the legitimacy of the site and the quality of its products and services.
  • Beware of Unrealistic Discounts: While significant discounts are expected during the holiday season, be skeptical of deals that seem too incredible. If an offer appears unrealistically generous, it’s wise to question its authenticity.
  • Check for Secure Payment Options: Reputable online stores prioritize customer security and offer secure payment options. Look for “https://” in the URL and familiar payment gateways, such as PayPal, to ensure your financial information is handled securely.
  • Watch Out for Typos and Grammar Mistakes: Pay attention to the quality of the website’s content. Scam websites often contain typos, grammatical errors, or poorly written product descriptions. Legitimate retailers maintain a professional online presence.
  • Avoid Pop-Up Ads: Be cautious when encountering pop-up ads that promise unbelievable discounts. Legitimate retailers rarely rely on intrusive ads to attract customers, and pop-ups can be a red flag for potential scams.
  • Research Coupon Codes: If a website prompts you to enter a coupon code for an additional discount, verify the code’s legitimacy. Search for the code online or check the retailer’s official social media accounts for valid promotions.

Legitimate Places to Find Online Holiday Deals

Now that you know what to avoid when shopping online, here are a few safe ways to find legitimate holiday deals. 

  •  Official Retailer Websites: Start your search on the official websites of well-known retailers. Most major brands offer exclusive online discounts during the holiday season.
  • Reputable Online Marketplaces: Platforms like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart often host holiday sales with a wide range of products. Ensure you are purchasing from verified sellers with positive reviews.
  • Subscribe to Newsletters and Email Lists: Sign up for newsletters or emails from your favorite retailers to receive exclusive discounts and early access to holiday sales. Many companies reward loyal customers with special offers.
  • Cashback and Reward Programs: Consider using cashback and reward programs offered by credit cards or dedicated cashback websites. These programs can provide additional savings on your holiday purchases.
  • Compare Prices Across Platforms: Use price comparison tools or apps to ensure you get the best deal. Some platforms automatically scan the internet for the lowest prices on the items you’re looking for.
  • Follow Social Media Accounts: Retailers frequently announce big sales and exclusive discounts on their social media accounts. Follow your favorite brands on platforms like Instagram and Twitter to stay updated on the latest deals.

Stay Alert to Avoid Falling for Fake Holiday Discounts

While the allure of online holiday discounts is undeniable, it’s essential to approach the digital shopping landscape with caution. If you’re taken by a scam, report it to the FTC. By being vigilant, checking for warning signs, and verifying the legitimacy of online deals, you can happily navigate the holiday season without falling victim to fake discounts. Stick to reputable sources, prioritize security, and explore legitimate avenues for finding the best online holiday deals. Remember, a cautious approach ensures a joyful and secure shopping experience.

Read more about holiday security in our Benchmark blog, “Season’s Thievings: How to Spot and Avoid Holiday Shopping Scams.” 

Keep some cash in your pocket by reading our blog, “Avoiding Hidden Holiday Costs: Uncovering the Sneaky Expenses You Didn’t Plan For.” 

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