Tips to Identify Scams During Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Millions of shoppers will take advantage of sales Black Friday weekend and throughout Cyber Monday. The sales, unfortunately, also attract cyber criminals. We’ve compiled a list of tips to avoid scams during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Cybercriminals take advantage of the onslaught of shoppers by posting online scams. Consumers, meanwhile, are caught up in the rush of the holidays, feeling the pressure to find deals and hard-to-find gifts on their shopping list. 

A study from Norton shows that 1 in 3 Americans tend to take more risks when doing their online holiday shopping. While savvy shoppers know how to find the best deals, it’s just as critical that they be able to spot a scam. 

Here are some of the most common holiday online shopping scams and tips to avoid them:

Fake Order Scam

Planning on doing a lot of gift buying Black Friday or Cyber Monday? You may have difficulty keeping track of all the order confirmations and other emails flooding your inbox. Cybercriminals take advantage of this onslaught of emails by sending fake order confirmation emails that trick you into clicking on links that could potentially lead to malware or to a website that tricks you into sharing personal information.

Tip: Stay organized! Keep thorough records of your orders. Make a list of the gifts you’ve purchased, the date, the amount, and the website. You can also create a holiday folder in your email inbox and move those notifications into the folder as you receive them. The extra time it takes to track your orders is well worth avoiding the possibility of becoming a victim of identity theft.

Fake Delivery Scam

Think before you click on any suspicious delivery notifications. The real USPS will never request payment to redeliver a package that it claims was delivered to the wrong address. Be aware that emails can be made to look legitimate, containing official logos and using professional language. A suspicious email may ask you to click on a tracking link for your mystery package.

Tip: Be wary of unsolicited communications regarding package deliveries. Package delivery companies will never send unsolicited messages via phone call or text. Never give personal information to strangers or click on links in unsolicited emails.

Fake Website Scam

Cybercriminals often purchase the domains of misspelled websites that can easily be mistaken for popular retailers. This is called “typosquatting” and targets consumers who mistakenly type in the wrong url into their browser’s address bar.

Tip: Don’t click suspicious URLs. If you are uncertain of a retailer’s direct website, use a search engine to navigate to the correct site or click directly from a legitimate email sent by the retailer.

Gift Card Payment Scam

Cybercriminals love gift card scams. Consumers who filed complaints with the FTC about gift card payment scams in the first nine months of 2021 lost $148 million — more than was reported stolen by this method in all of 2020.

Gift cards are the most common way scammers seek payment from their targets, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Con artists use Target, Walmart, and other popular gift cards as part of their scams. 

Tip: Genuine businesses and organizations never ask for payment via gift card. The same goes for someone you know supposedly contacting via email or text for  money via gift card. Don’t give personal information to anyone in exchange for a gift card.

Fake Charity Scam

People feel generous during the holidays and unfortunately cybercriminals take advantage of the season of giving. Cybercriminals often set up fake charities. Be forewarned, they typically ask for payment in the form of gift cards, wire transfers, money orders or even cryptocurrency because this money is not traceable once it leaves your “hands.” Don’t get swept up in the spirit of giving and donate money to an unfamiliar cause.

Before you start your shopping this year, make sure your identity theft protection software is up to date or consider purchasing it if you don’t already have it installed on your home computer.

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