Deals and Deception on Cyber Monday

October 4, 2020


Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales have been increasing every year—to the point that these deals run for almost a full week online. In 2019, during the holiday shopping frenzy, online shoppers spent more than $16 billion. The consistent growth of these sales, coupled with the increase in online shopping due to quarantine, points to a record-breaking year for online transactions.

As shoppers hunt for deals, thieves and hackers hunt for careless shoppers. During the Cyber Monday surge in online shopping, consumers face increased risk of credit card fraud. Approximately 35% of Americans have experienced credit card fraud, the most common type of identity theft. Last year the number of credit card fraud reports increased by a 72% and trends indicate this number is still on the rise.

Is it worth the risk?

With the massive volume of transactions and increased vulnerability of deal-seeking shoppers, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are prime times for credit card fraud. During these holiday sales, consumers are more susceptible to email phishing attempts disguised as deals. These phishing attempts may offer coupons, pretend to be a Black Friday deal, or replicate an existing email newsletter.

In their rush to save on holiday shopping, consumers are less likely to act judiciously in these high risk situations. A survey from Experian reports 20% of consumers would risk identity theft for a good Cyber Monday deal. In addition to this risky behavior, credit cards’ automatic fraud detection measures are made less reliable by the irregular shopping patterns and sheer number of transactions during the holiday shopping season.

While Cyber Monday attracts many thieves and hackers, consumers can take action to protect themselves while shopping online.

  • Update your software. Software updates often include security measures to protect against the latest threats.
  • Keep track of your online purchases and cross-reference the list with your credit card statements. Unidentified purchases may indicate fraud.
  • Do not follow links in marketing materials. Go to the website directly to avoid falling into phishing traps.
  • Use antivirus software. These programs can help detect fraud before it is too late.

Above all else, be careful. A bargain isn’t a bargain if it comes at the cost of having your identity stolen.

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