So you made it through Black Friday, that madness is over for another year. Now it’s time for the Cyber Monday madness. Although you don’t have to worry about being in the middle of a beat down over a Barbie, Cyber Monday carries it’s own perils and pitfalls.
Cyber Monday has developed into the biggest online shopping day and scammers will be setting up traps for the unwary. Online shoppers get caught every year in a multitude of scams from simple online Phishing schemes to flat out thefts. So when you jump into the online shopping, be aware! Some of the things to look out for:
Spoofing of retail websites
Spoofing is not new. It has been around for a bit. Have you ever gotten an e-mail from E-bay saying that you need to update your account? That email probably had E-bay’s logo and may have even had an attached link that looked legitimate. That is what spoofing is, imitating a reputable website. When you go to this spoofed site and input your personal information, identity thieves now have everything that they need to steal your identity.
With online shopping it’s the same thing. The thieves set up a site that looks like Sears and may even have Sears in the web address. But it’s not Sears you are giving your information to, it’s an identity thief.
Sharing of unknown links
We all like to share good deals right? So it stands to reason that our friends would share great deals with us. We also trust our friends so we don’t really think when we get that message on Facebook about the free computer our friend got as a part of a ‘Holiday promotion’. Social networks get hacked. That link that your friend shared with you is not from your friend at all. It is from some scammer phishing for information.
The too good to be true deal
While Walmart may have been selling the next big thing dirt cheap and way under cost for a couple of hours on Black Friday, they are making up their loss through all of the other sales that they are making. You don’t walk into a store and see that as the regular price. Finding items at unreasonably low prices should set off warning bells. Yes you might just find a Rolex discounted 25% on a website. But when it is being sold for a 10th of the price? Can you say hot watch?
Things to be aware of
Like anything else staying safe while shopping online is mostly common sense. Here are some tips to protect yourself.
- Do not enter any of your information on unsecured websites. Always check the address bar. The page url should start with “HTTPS://”
- Confirm website urls whenever possible. If you plan to shop at a major retailer online, pick up the phone and call them to get the correct url. Many scam sites will use the retailer domain name and then change the .com to .net or .org.
- Be aware of the almost correct url. Scammers will create a domain name close enough to seem legitimate. For example if they want to spoof say Starbucks and Starbucks url is starbucks.com, the scammer may use starbuckscoffee.com
- Before clicking on any link, hover your cursor over that link. At the bottom of the screen it will show you the web address that you are actually going to. If the link is cloaked, for example it shows http://www.shortlink.com/identifying code your safest bet is not to click it. Legitimate retailers have no need or desire to hide themselves.
Be aware of Knockoffs
If it is a designer item or hot brand name, the knockoffs are out there. Everything from Sports Jerseys, to hand bags, to shoes to perfume have been copied. So the odds are that cheap Louis Vuitton bag is nothing more than a cheap imitation. Many companies sell admittedly fake imitations of the real things and they are marked as imitations or reproductions.
The only way you can be sure that you are actually ordering the real thing is to order it from and authorized retailer or the designer’s own website if they have one. For example you can go to Louis Vuitton’s website look up the authorized retailer’s. If that website is not an authorized retailer, they are not selling the real thing.
Be aware, use your common sense and research before you buy. Protect your identity and avoid scams this holiday season.