SEVN-X spoke with NBC 10 Philadelphia to offer a few last minute shopping tips to avoid scams and becoming a victim this holiday season—in a year when almost all commerce has been online.

The Interview

Key Takeaways

Similar to our Black Friday PSA, the guidelines to staying safe with online shopping are largely unchanged, and thus repeated here from that post.

Here is an overview of best practices for shopping online. These tips will help ensure that you don't get scammed, and if it happens, you're in the best possible position to be protected.


  • Stick to brand name sites (e.g., Amazon, Best Buy, Bed Bath and Beyond)
  • Notice how we didn't link them above? Don't click on links to these sites, type them in manually to the browser
  • Pay for purchases with gift cards, virtual credit card numbers (more below), PayPal, or credit cards to ensure you have fraud protection
  • Avoid deals too good to be true—they usually are
  • Research your retailer: try putting "[the business name] scam" or "[] scam" into Google and searching for reasons not to use the site
  • Be objective in your research: we tend to look for reasons that support our choices not condemn them, but being objective may help you stay safe
  • Rule #1 Never pay for anything with cash (i.e., bank transfers), checks, or money orders online—as these payment methods have zero consumer protection and banks aren't likely to give you money back if you lose it to a scam
  • Search for Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals posted to used shopping services (Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist)—remember, there are no Holiday deals on used merchandise
  • If you do end up buying something used, choose a safe meeting place to preform the exchange. Maintain Social [Physical] Distance, sanitize the product before taking it home, and choose a safe place to do the exchange (e.g., daytime in a grocery/convenience store parking lot)

About the Author

Matt Barnett, CISSP, GFCA
Chief Strategist & Cofounder

After years in IT, performing network and system administration, software development, and architecting cloud migrations, Matt began to focus his efforts in cybersecurity. Matt draws on his technical competency and law enforcement background to assist clients, in both proactive and incident response capacities. In addition, Matt has developed an arsenal of applications, strategies, policies, and procedures to assist clients in achieving better cybersecurity.