Consumer Alert: Cyber Monday Scams

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November 27, 2017

'Tis the season for Cyber Monday deals — and scams! Many of us love a good deal, especially when they can be purchased online and delivered straight to your door. However, scammers are on the hunt for vulnerable users. They know thousands of them will fall for their horrendous tricks.

Cyberthieves will be out in full force today and the rest of the holiday season, but not by knocking on doors or dressing up as Santa. Many will be attacking through emails and fake online sites trying to get you to provide your personal information.

According to DomainTools, a threat intelligence company, two in five U.S. consumers will fall to an online phishing attack. Even though 91% of people are aware of these scams, 40% of people end up a victim.

With these statistics, it's not overkill to, once again, spread the awareness of phishing attacks. Those too-good-to-be-true deals are more often than not a scam. The cyberthieves are doing everything in their power to lure you to click on their link to obtain your personal information. Make sure you are aware of the following tips before purchasing anything online:

1. Stop Chasing Deals

Today, our phones are going off non-stop and are working behind the scenes to find you deals. Many of us have our phones notify us when there is a deal we should look at (i.e. Amazon lightning deals). And many of these are true and honest deals.

The volume of this activity only makes us more susceptible to clicking on a $100 coupon. When rushing or excited about a deal, we may not think twice about checking the website URL. It could have an odd name and not be from the national brand you believe it is.

The brands that tend to be most targeted are Amazon, Walmart, and Target.

2. Spot The Fake Sites

Before submitting any personal information, make sure to check the domain source. It's called "brand-abusing domains, " and many of them still have a dot-com but are still fake. These fraudulent websites can be discrete and can appear like these: "Amazonsecure-shop," "Target-officialsite," or "Walmartkt." Other sites may even include extra letters such as, "Yahooo" or "Walmaart."

Many cyberthieves will shorten the URL to hide these phishing sites. These shortened URL's can be seen on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. If clicked, these phishing links will direct you to a longer, yet still hidden URL, according to research conducted by the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG).

Also, according to APWG, "nearly 119,000 unique phishing sites were detected during November 2016, with over 300 individual brands targeted that month."

3. Do Not Rush

Buyers who click on emailed links or who visit these bogus sites are typically unknowingly providing their personal information. A good rule of thumb is to never click on links within an email. Go directly to the retailer's website and always double check the URL before proceeding.

4. Ask, "Why Would They Be Sending Me a Free Gift Card?"

If you've been around the news lately, you will see that several scams have hit close to home. A recent scam included a free $50 Amazon gift card that was sent via email — complete a survey and receive a $50 gift card. This was too good to be true and many consumers fell for it and were hit hard. To read the full article, click here.

Report Suspected Phishers

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are several things you can do to make our cyber world less threatening:
1. Forward phishing emails to spam@uce.gov and to the company the phisher impersonated.
2. File a report with FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
3. Report phishing email to APWG at reportphishing@apwg.org.

Share these tips with your family and friends to ensure their personal information is safe! In other news, Chip Gaines shaved his head for an amazing cause! 

Next: Chip Gaines Shaved His Head For an Incredible CauseNov 20, 2017