In 2015, Cyber Monday surpassed the projected $3 billion dollar sales forecast.
This year, with Cyber Monday just around the corner, you better believe cyber criminals are ready.
But don’t worry, if you know what Cyber Monday scams to watch out for, you won’t fall victim to pop-up spam, social engineering scams and malvertising campaigns.
1) Fake Online Stores
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Finding a great deal through a search engine doesn’t guarantee the site is legit. Cyber criminals get their websites promoted to the top of Google or other search engines which gives the impression that they are real. If you make the mistake of clicking on these phony websites, they can infect your computer or device with a virus or malware.
If you’re even 1% unsure about whether a website is legit, open a new browser, type in the store’s name and search for the product. If the site doesn’t verify the deal, it’s a fake.
(TIP: Cyber criminals often reserve domain names with misspellings of popular brands and create fake websites to capture your financial information – be sure you type the name correctly!)
If you’re unfamiliar with an online store, type the business or website name + scam or rip off into a search engine and if it is a scam, it’s likely someone may have already put out a warning.
2) Malware emails with Ah-maaaazing Offers
When was the last time you received an offer from a legitimate store with a zip file attachment? That’s right, it doesn’t happen. Be especially wary of Cyber Monday emails that contain any type of attachment because it’s possible they contain malware or ransomware. In fact, carefully assess ANY Cyber Monday email you receive. Type the URL into your web browser rather than clicking the link to ensure you’re shopping at the official online store.
3) Public WiFi Data Swipe
It’s never a good idea to send sensitive information over a public WiFi network because your credit card data can easily be stolen. Public WiFi spots are pure gold for cyber criminals, particularly around the holidays.
4) Social Media Fakeout
Cyber criminals know you’re looking for great deals. What better way to reach unsuspecting buyers than Facebook? Scammers use fake or compromised Facebook accounts to post links to incredible deals that don’t exist, particularly on walls of open groups dedicated to shopping. Be especially skeptical of any fake offers, deals or freebies like bogus wine or travel deals. This time of year, steer clear from or be cautious of “giveaways” asking you to share the post on Facebook in order to qualify for something that seems too good to be true.
5) Text Message Phishing
You might already be aware of email phishing scams, but have you heard of text message phishing scams? Here’s how this works; scammers send you a text message “alerting” you of suspicious activity in your bank account, asking you to call a bogus number.
When you call the number, you’re asked to share your sensitive information. Many people fall victim to this scam due to the number of Cyber Monday purchases they’ve made. If you receive a similar message, contact your financial institution directly and whatever you do, DON’T call the number in the text.
Finally, while shopping online this year, follow these 3 do’s and don’ts for Cyber Monday shopping:
- Click on “malvertising” ads or pop ups within web pages that might contain malware or viruses.
- Use a debit card for online purchases. Use a credit card instead.
- Assume a website is secure because they have images of a lock icon within the page.
- Be cautious of gift cards and only purchase them from legitimate retailers in person whenever possible.
- Check your bank statements regularly this time of year.
- Make sure your order is secure by only entering credit card details on web pages that use SSL (secure sockets layer) security. How do you know? Most browsers show a lock icon in the upper left corner of the browser. Another way to know is if the URL for the page begins with https:// and not http://.
Most importantly, before you start shopping on Cyber Monday, take a few moments to ensure your web browser, Antivirus and operating system are up to date. Never use an outdated browser or computer for online shopping.