7 scam schemes that can ruin your holiday shopping
On Cyber Monday, American shoppers spent a record $ 9,4 billion on the Internet, up $ 1,5 billion from last year. In their busiest hours, US residents spent $ 12 million a minute. Yes, every minute. But where there is money, there are hackers, scammers and thieves.
Nothing makes Christmas so sad as an empty wallet and the inability to buy gifts for loved ones. Fox News invites you to learn 7 of popular and tricky ways to deceive customers before and during the holidays, as well as ways to protect against scammers.
1. Fake emails
Cybercriminals are looking for victims all year round, and they will be very successful during the holiday season. Phishing schemes are commonly found in emails that disguise the true intent of the scammers and look like they were sent from trusted sources. During the holidays, the most common schemes are fake Amazon and Apple emails claiming your account has been disabled. The scammers provide a link so that you can "reset your password".
By opening such an email and clicking on the link, you will be taken to a website that looks like real, but as soon as you enter your username and password, your information will be in the hands of hackers.
To avoid phishing emails, always check the sender’s full email address and never open links that you are not sure about 100% of. Phishing email addresses may contain parts of real names such as Amazon and Apple, but they are usually much longer and more complex.
Apple and Amazon do not request your information directly. If you are not sure whether the email is actually received from the seller, call the company’s support team and talk with a real person. There they will be able to check access to your account. Remember that any phone numbers that scammers advise you to call are also fake, so use these numbers:
- Apple Support: 1-800-275-2273
- Amazon Support: 1-888-280-4331
2. "Problems with the order"
Another email scam is delivery notifications, which may look like Amazon, UPS, or FedEx messages. These emails contain text about “a problem with your order” and how you must verify your identity so that the order is not canceled. Naturally, this is a deception. None of the major logistics services ever ask for this information, nor will they cancel your order in such a short amount of time.
Fraudsters are betting that the victim will respond for fear of losing an important gift. If you see a letter from any of these companies with this text, delete it. And in no case do not click the links inside.
The same method of fraud is used in the form of text messages. Clicking on any link in this case creates a risk to your privacy. Any strange messages immediately delete or ignore. If you are not sure whether these messages are legal, call the customer service line to check. Make sure you have a tracking number and order information.
- Amazon Support: 1-888-280-4331
- UPS Support: 1-800-742-5877
- FedEx Support: 1-800-463-3339
3. Gift Card Scams
Gift cards are more than just useful gifts. Once a gift card is purchased, the funds on it become virtually unavailable for tracking. This is why scammers prefer their victims to buy gift cards. Once you buy them, your money is lost forever.
Gift card fraud, as a rule, is part of other schemes, but during the holidays it can be independent. For example, if you work for a large company, you may receive a letter in your inbox allegedly from your boss about collecting gifts for colleagues. Fraudsters claim that you need to purchase a certain amount of gift cards online, which will be distributed at the company's party. But as soon as the cards are bought, you will no longer receive a response from your "boss".
Anyone who asks you to pay for a gift card online is in a dubious business. This is not a traceable way to acquire and spend money, so it’s almost impossible to punish violators. Avoid such purchases.
4. Too good to be true
There is a saying that always applies to Internet offers: “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.” This is doubly relevant for coupons and discounts that are distributed throughout the Web in advertisements, emails and social media profiles.
Another way that hackers try to get information is to get people to subscribe to coupon codes, discounts and sales through "exclusive memberships." These links usually lead to third party fraudulent sites that get your information at lightning speed. To make matters worse, many of these scammers pay to advertise on social media and search engines, which can give this scheme a look of legitimacy.
Instead of hunting around the dark corners of the Internet to save money, consider using a reliable application, such as Honey, that automatically scans and applies coupon codes from trusted retailers.
5. Come visit on Facebook
Social media is a breeding ground for scammers. For many, Facebook is becoming the ideal choice, so you need to carefully monitor which advertisements you are responding to. The most dangerous thing is direct messages from Facebook sellers. When a professional fraudster can talk to you directly, they can use all their social engineering skills to trick you into paying or providing information.
On the subject: Avoiding Amazon Scammers: 13 Tips
If the seller is not verified by many real reviews, it is best to avoid direct contact with him. Another way to keep yourself safe when shopping on Facebook is to avoid using your real credit card - stick to a secure payment method instead.
6. But is it a fake?
Everyone with children knows how this happens. Let's say your child loves figurines, and when you browse eBay, you find the perfect gift for less than half the retail price. You put it in a basket, hoping that it will arrive before Christmas. And if they deliver it at all, do not be surprised that a fake will come to you.
For mass-produced products, such as toys and game consoles, large trading platforms such as Amazon and eBay are breeding ground. Many of these sellers make a lot of money in their shadow business, hiding the fact that they make exact copies or even are a third party in relation to the product.
To be safe, always compare photos with real images. If the same image is found in several lists, there is a high probability that it is fake. When buying from a seller in China, always check the reviews to make sure the seller is legal, and look for the keywords “replica” or “third party” in the product list.
Using PayPal to pay will also give you the opportunity to ask for help, so avoid paying by credit or debit card online, if possible.
7. The price is higher, the price is lower
Many large retailers are involved in this fraud, both online and offline. For many, this is not so much a scam as a “business", but here's what you need to know when it comes to price changes.
A common sales tactic is to raise the price of goods before a major event, such as Black Friday, and then pretend that the discount for the holiday is greater than it really is. Moreover, some even promote price increases as offers that force many active buyers to make purchases before real promotions and sales begin.
Try not to give in to the temptation to shop before holiday offers take effect. Always check prices with several stores and check to see if the store you are interested in has a pricing policy that can bring you even greater savings.
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