Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, however, if you’re like the 47% of last-minute shoppers, during the 2018 Yuletide season, listen up.
Cyber-scammers are lurking just a click away from your on-line shopping experience. This year, thanks to a robust economy along with a sizable uptick in consumer confidence, shoppers have thus far spent a record $9.4 billion dollars online, that’s $1.5 billion dollars more than last holiday season, and we still have approximately three weeks left before Santa makes his journey from the North Pole.
For those mathematicians who like to impress others by crunching the numbers, that astounding figure comes to $12 million dollars per minute, and “yes” that’s every single minute, of every day.
Which no doubt is the reason why every scammer, hacker and simple thief is out there, figuring ingenious ways to separate shoppers from their money.
Especially when last-minute shoppers begin to feel the pressure in getting their holiday shopping done – mistakes along and not paying attention becomes the scammers’ way in.
The most common scam cyber-criminals favor is “phishing” disguising a well-known email from a trusted source for the holidays.
For example, a well respected online retailer like Amazon or Apple, in the hands of savvy hackers and scammers becomes a shopper’s nightmare. The hackers cleverly create their own email by using the trade-name Amazon somewhere within the fake email, and then inform the unsuspecting shopper that their account has been “disabled”. They then provide a link so that the shopper can “reset your password.”
However once the unsuspecting shopper clicks on the email, they’re taken to a website that mirrors the real thing, where they’re required to enter their password and additional security information, which is now in the hands of hackers.
The easiest way to decipher the real Amazon email from a phony is to simply pay attention, take a few moments to actually “look over” the email before opening it, and “NEVER” open a link you aren’t sure about.
As stated “phishing email addresses” may contain pieces of a real name like Amazon, the spelling may be off by one character, or perhaps the email may be much longer than usual, with some complex keyboard symbols attached.
However, the best insurance from becoming a victim of identity theft this holiday season, if you’re contacted by email from an online retailer, is to simply pick up a phone and call their customer service line direct, and speak to a real person.
Another scam that makes use of your inbox includes shipping notifications, which present themselves as Amazon, UPS or FedEx messages. These emails contain text about an issue with “your order” and how you must verify your identity to save your item from being seized or canceled.
Scammers, of course, are playing the odds that the shopper has an order “in-process”, especially during the holiday season, from one of these companies.
Again, do not open the email, better still “delete it” and if concerned, call the carrier direct.
Facebook is also a breeding ground for scam-artist, the cost of buying a Facebook ad is peanuts, considering the millions of potential victims reached, especially during the holiday season.
The biggest red flag for a scam attack comes in the form of direct messages from Facebook marketplace merchants. When a professional con artist is able to talk with you directly, they can deploy all their social engineering skills to trick you into paying them or giving them information.