The Christmas holidays are quickly approaching, and with it comes the largest shopping season of the year. You may choose to visit the shopping centers in person, and participate in hand to hand combat with your fellow shoppers, or you could stay in the comfort of your home and order online. Online shopping however does have its draw backs, it leaves you vulnerable for cyber threats.
It should come of no surprise that the busiest shopping season of the year, also marks the highest rate for cyber threats, online scams, and identity theft. Everyone needs to take responsibility and protect themselves against these threats, not just during this high-volume time-frame, but all year long. Below is a list of common scams and identity schemes to watch out for:
Deals on Black Friday or Cyber MONDAY
Fake coupons that offer complimentary watches, smartphones, and other merchandise online. This also applies to some items that are massively discounted. For example, If brand new Ray-Ban sunglasses are being sold for 90% off, that might be too good to be true – and perhaps it is. Always double check if a company is legitimate.
Think before clicking on an email or text alert from a delivery service. Don’t enter personal and/or sensitive information when prompted by alerts. Refund scams could also come from websites claiming that there was a wrong transaction, prompting you to click the refund link – which will delightfully upload some malware to your computer.
Fake Gift Cards
Sending gift cards to someone is becoming quite popular, but if you don’t know who the sender is don’t open the card – why would a stranger send you money? These gift cards are another source of delivering malware. Always double check with the sender by contacting them before opening the card.
Using charities to scam people out of their money might be lowest type of fraud on this list, but it does happen and you should always look into a charity before donating. Check their reviews, company status with the Better Business Bureau, and their legitimacy by visiting Charity Navigator.
Using public Wi-Fi connections in places like shopping malls or coffee shops allows hackers to access your computer more easily. Choosing the wrong Wi-Fi could also lead to your credit card information being stolen while you online shop.
Star Wars Film
This scam is only concerning for this years holiday, as Disney’s new film Star Wars: The Force Awakens is set to hit the theaters December 18, 2015. The scam prompts you to fill our their survey with the potential of winning tickets for the opening night of the film. Those tickets are long gone now people, if you didn’t purchase tickets within the first hour of their release a few months ago, you’re not going to opening weekend – sorry to break it to you.
Happy shopping everyone! Be smart out there.