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Security Tips for our Customers

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Helpful Security Hints When Shopping Online

Created by Christmas in Prescott -


Increase in Fraud:

Online fraud has been increasing every year from websites, fake sellers on platforms, to stolen credit cards.  

Website:  Fraudulent websites, EBay, other platform Accounts selling top brand name items, some even at ridiculous prices

Credit Card info is stolen from just about any source, often not used until months later to help hide the source of the stolen cards (utility companies, insurance companies, ecommerce websites, hospital payments, in person credit card skimmers).  This information is sold on the dark web.  Most companies will experience it at least once, if not more.  Unless the stolen information includes sensitive information as protected healthcare information, passwords to financial institutions, etc, it is rarely publicly reported, if so there would be lists of reports daily in the news.  

Today's common fraud has a never ending circle - Fraudulent websites or EBay accounts lure you in with lower prices, get paid by you even though they do not really have any merchandise, then they use stolen credit card info (from previous transactions, or purchased off the dark web) and they place an order on legitimate websites, like ours, using stolen credit cards to fill those orders.  The legitimate website send the order, then gets a chargeback from the credit card company. Now they are out both the product and the money, a double whammy.  Customers lose their sense of safety after experiencing credit card fraud and retailers must then charge more money to offset those loses.  


Protect yourself:  

#1)  Get notices when your credit card is used:  Sign up to be notified by text or email every time your account is used.  Set up a daily amount and a individual sale amount.  Often the first fraud order is below $10 to test to the account.  Often they have all your information, name, address, phone #, full credit card info..  While it's not a personal threat, it makes it harder for fraud protection software to detect the fraud

#2)  Do not use a debit card online.  Debit cards are usually tied directly to your balance on your account and often more difficult to challenge in cases of frau.  Use a credit card instead.

#3)  Use a low limit credit card when traveling (but keep a spare unused with a higher limit). 

#4)  Do not let a credit card company increase your credit limit by an amount not comfortable with you. Your credit card limit is also who much fraud can take place

#5)  Do not use your credit card at a vending machine.  When traveling buy a Visa or Mastercard gift card for use at vending machines or locations where you may have concerns about credit card information being secure.

#6)  If you receive a package and it's the product you ordered but not from the website or EBay store you ordered from, watch your credit card history as you may have had your credit card info stolen and contact the company which sent the package.  The chances are they were scammed  using a stolen credit card to pay for your order.  Help them put a stop to further fraud and harm to their store.  

#7)  When purchasing online, use a payment service which requires you to sign in as PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay.  Online credit card skimmers normally copy the name, address, credit card info you type directly into that website's shopping cart whereas a sign in payment source does not reveal your full credit card information (some provide the last 4 digits, other no info at all).  REMINDER: If you need to add to an online order and used a sign-in/digital payment option, you may be required to place a 2nd order - add to the notes to please combine the orders and adjust your shipping fees for the combined total.  

#8)  If your credit card info is stolen, do not assume it's from a recent transaction.  Some thieves wait 6 - 9 months before using the stolen credit card info, as the longer it goes undetected the more time they have to steal even more credit card information.  They may wait until they have 10,000 or 100,000 card #'s before starting to use the first card #'s stolen.  

#9)  Small initial charge, even if just $0.01:  If you receive a notice by email or text that a very small charge was pre-authorized or charged, , even $0.01, and you do not recognize it, call your credit card company immediately.  They may be trying to set up Apple Pay, Google Pay etc using your credit card information or testing a small sale to verify the credit card is still valid.  

#10)  Look for the following before ordering from a website, EBay Store, Etsy Seller for the first time.

  • Price: If the price is too good to be true, it may be fraud (purpose:  to get your credit card info and/or scam a legitimate website by using stolen credit card info to ship to you via their website while keeping the money paid via EBay or your credit card). 

    Recently a website was selling Old World Christmas ornaments which typically sell for $20 for $8.80.  We started an investigation and that website was a fraudulent seller obtaining credit card information plus keeping in business by using stolen credit card info (from previous sales and/or the dark web) to ship the merchandise from a legitimate website, as ours.  We suffered the loss of both the merchandise and the payment, while the customer thinks our company stole their credit card info because it was shipped by our company, even though they did not purchase from our website.   If something does not seem right, do your research with the below suggestions and also if the product does not ship from the company expected, help prevent fraud and harm to legitimate stores by contacting the company which shipped the product.  

  • Payment Options:  Most fraud websites only accept credit cards (because they want to steal your credit card info) 

  • Return Policy:  Check their return policy.  If it states do not return to the manufacturer, it's fraud (manufacturers do not send merchandise directly to customers, they send to a retailer, who ships to you).  If they do not accept returns, it's fraud.

  • Address/Map it:  Check their address, including on Google, Bing, etc.  Look at the address at the bottom of their website, is it a valid U.S. address.  Google the address, does it show a picture of a house or a business/warehouse.  Check the address on their "about us" page, "contact us" page, at the bottom of their website.  Do they match.  Fraud sites often have different addresses, some foreign too. 

  • Phone #: Check their phone #:  Before ordering call during business hours.  Most fraud websites have phone #'s to generic voicemail services, like google voice.  The voicemail should be informative and you should receive a reply.  

  • Deceptive Home Page:  Many use religious symbols or words on their home page to make you feel more safe.  If the address, phone # or return policies concern you, check further, don't be fooled by deceptive images.  

  • Check the online whois registry (  or use these links which open in a new window:  Who Is Lookup (opens in a new window) ....  Who Is for Christmas in Prescott (opens in a new window).

    Look up the about us on their website, does it say we have been in business for 15 years but the whois directory shows they have only had a website for 3 years old.  (Most fraud websites and/or fraud Ebay stores are less than 1 year old, but some as much as 3 years old).  Note:  most websites keep their owners names and private information private, the main information you are looking for is how long the website has existed)

  • Remember, EBay and marketplaces, as Etsy, allow anyone to sell on their platform, all they need is a checking account to send the money.  Take extra time to learn more about the sellers before purchasing.  We have seen brand new products made in China on our website sold on Etsy as "antique" or "hand-crafted in the USA".   

  • Chat - many fraudulent websites will claim to offer chat - but all they really do is ask for your email address or the chat just does not work.  Try to chat option to see if it works (note:  most small companies lack the employees to offer chat as it requires someone to be able to stop what they are doing and reply immediately, therefore lack of a chat option is common for legitimate websites)


If you have suggestions of helpful hints to add, please contact us at



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