Every year, the number of online shoppers and consumers increases exponentially. This trend has nevertheless captured the attention of hackers and cyber scammers. They could seize the opportunity to exploit as many users as they can for their money, personal information, and sensitive data. It is important to protect your devices and information from any scams that may come your way.
The nerds at #TechStarters have compiled a naughty list of the 5 most prevalent and malicious holiday cyber scams, shams, and warnings signs, and what you can do to prevent yourself from becoming a fraud victim as you engage in your last-minute online shopping excursion.
1. App Mishaps
It is unsurprising that nowadays, the ease of purchasing products from your smartphone has generating a lot of traction in the app market. Unfortunately, scammers have taken this trend into account. As a result, these scammer can publish phony shopping apps. These are designed to look exactly like a reputable store’s app, minus the security. It’s for that reason you may as well be better off browsing a retailer’s website versus downloading an app. That, however, brings us to our next offender on the list.
2. Insecure Shopping Sites
This may be one of the biggest offenders on the list. While, sadly, even the most secure website can become subject to a data breach. The biggest warning sign to look for when shopping online can be found right on the address bar of the website. Today especially, it is standard practice for e-commerce sites to be secured with an SSL or TSL certificate. This certification ensures that any information that is input into the website is encrypted and cannot be read anywhere else. If you notice that a website has “HTTP” in instead of “HTTPS” this is a sure-fire indicator that the site has not been secured or could very well be a phony replica of a reputable site.
3. Social Network Shams
Lately, social media giants have been a gold mine for hacks, scams and false stories. Especially during the holidays, you can expect to see a rise in suspicious instant messages from friends and family soliciting absurd amounts of money for charities, to pyramid schemes disguised as a “Secret Santa” gift exchange that manifests itself through chain mail messages. There’s a variety of scams to watch out for on social media, so if you spot something that seems to good to be true, do research to verify whether a store, program, or service is genuine and reputable in practice.
4. Fake Ads & Dubious Deals
In conjunction with our previous scam on this list, fake ads THRIVE during the holiday season. These ads could be outrageously low prices for popular items. These may also be advertisements for sale and adoption of animals. These particular ads especially tend to circulate and thrive on sites like Facebook and Instagram where they can be exposed to a large user base.
5. Phony Phishing Emails
Phishing emails have been around for a long time. With the holiday season, you may expect to see your inbox flooded with shipment notifications and payment notices. Phishing emails have actually gone as far as creating fake shipment notifications and payment notifications. This is to trick users into provided sensitive information in order to track an item or recover a missing package.” Appearance-wise, these emails can look frighteningly genuine. However, when in doubt, check for any spelling or grammar errors. Afterwards, research the company or shipping company and contact support. Generally, they can tell if what you’ve received is real or phony.
The Nerds at #TechStarters hope that you’ve found this information helpful and wish everyone a safe holiday. If you or your business happen to find yourself in a sticky situation, by all means, call a Nerd.