Black Friday and Cyber Monday Scams
Beware of common scams during the busiest shopping days of the year!
With the increasing popularity of online shopping, consumers biggest worry when shopping is no longer pickpockets and thieves. It’s a sneakier criminal: cyber hackers. As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach, here are some common scams to lookout for:
Click and Receive
Beware of emails on your computers and mobile devices exclaiming that you have just received a package from UPS, FedEx, or the US Post Office. Never fill out your information online if you are weary of the source. Call or visit the source directly to validate the email received. “Click and receive” a popular scam to steal your identity or to gather enough information to get into your bank account and empty it out. And we can’t say it enough: don’t click any links from any unknown sources. Not only can the link do irreparable harm to your computer or phone, but it could also be the first step in a diabolical coordinated effort to achieve access to your personal files, including passwords and other personal data. Pop-ups like the one below and common traps used.
As you walk through stores, or browse online websites, you may be enticed to text a phone number to receive a coupon or deal. If you are in a physical store, it is safe to think that the sign posted is from the legitimate business. However, if you receive a text message from a store you have never contacted, visited, or given information to, DO NOT REPLY! This includes texts from your bank! There is NO BANK that will text you and ask you for personal information.
One new scam that is sure to be popular this season are fake text messages that are pretending to alert you that your savings or checking accounts may have been hit with some illegal activity. The text will tell you that you need to call a given phone number immediately to reactivate and “secure” your account. That phone number will attempt to capture your home address, Social Security number, and other information. If you receive a message like this, go IN to the bank to verify.
Here’s another one to watch out for: The phony refund. It could look like it’s from a hotel, a chain store, or even a popular online destination like Amazon. It might say something like “wrong transaction” or “click for refund.” Always call the business directly before following through with a claim like this.
Our recommendation? Be Aware.
These are just a handful of the many scams that are out there. Cyber criminals evolve with every holiday shopping season. We do not want to discourage you from finding a good deal, but do encourage you to be aware of your surroundings and communications. Here are some tips for protecting yourself:
- Use credit instead of debit – Often times credit card companies are better equipped to handle fraud faster than a bank. When money is pulled directly from your checking account, it is harder to get back. Credit card companies can reverse charges and track the source of the fraud.
- Be wary of email – If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. There won’t be any companies giving out free money or 90% off deals this season. If something looks like a phenomenal deal, check the company’s website before clicking any email.
- Be wary of phony websites – We have seen countless companies become victims of fake website. Foot Locker is a recent company to have a complete duplicate of their website created.
- Protect your social networking – Facebook has millions of users and that means criminals are constantly looking for ways to infiltrate the network to steal people’s identity and personal information. With many apps and programs syncing to your social networking sites, make sure your passwords are strong and you log out of sites on public networks.
- Use your common sense – Yes, the majority of websites and emails are completely safe from danger. But there are cyber-criminals out there, and the holiday time of year the percentage of scams and illegal activity on the Internet are spiked simply because there are more of us doing online shopping during the holidays. Be wary and use your best judgment so that you can avoid falling victim during this special time of the year.