Online Shoppers Are More Vulnerable After Christmas
Learn about common scams and how to stay protected.
Many shoppers worry about being victimized by scams during the holiday season; however, cyber security experts predict a 60% increase in online scams AFTER Christmas. Here are some common fraud schemes to be aware of and what you can do to stay protected.
1. Cybercriminals can use phishing links during the holiday season. Phishing involves the use of malware infected URLs that steal passwords and other sensitive information. One of the favored tactics of hackers is sending out spoofed advertisements for holiday bargains to trick unsuspecting shoppers. These bogus ads are often sent through email, SMS messages and online ads that direct you to fake websites that can infect your device.
2. The “fake” cancellation notice. You might receive a notice regarding an order leading you to believe there is a problem with a transaction you made. You are asked to click a link to resolve the issue or contact a fraudulent customer service number so that imposters can trick you into sharing personal information. A similar scam sends you a fake tracking number for an order you didn’t make attempting to make you believe someone made an unauthorized purchase using your credit card. Methods like these are also used for holiday travel reservations such as car rentals, airline tickets, and hotel bookings.
3. Gift cards are scammers ‘bread and butter’. One tactic involves sending links to e-gift cards from spoofed brands as rewards or hijacked accounts from friends or family members. When you click the link, malware is installed on your device designed to compromise your banking information. Another strategy involves getting you to purchase gift cards online from fake sites to send to others. The hackers then steal the money you loaded on the gift card and can also steal the credit card information you used to make the purchase. A third strategy is to offer gift cards as rewards for completing customer satisfaction surveys or sweepstake prizes for forwarding counterfeit promotions onto others.
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Tips to Stay Safe
There are several things you can do to stay protected.
FIRST, check the URLs to any websites you are directed to and make sure they are legitimate. If you are contacted by the representative of a company about a problem, do not give out any information. Follow up with them at a published number or official email address.
MAKE sure you have a good antivirus on your device when shopping online such as dfndr security. Tools such as the anti-hacking feature can detect phishing links and malware.
LASTLY, be suspicious of any third-party offers. If it sounds too good to be true, then it likely is a scam.