Scammers are out in force during the holiday surge of online shopping. This year’s holiday scams may be more sophisticated and widespread than ever before. SDC CPAs (formerly Studler, Doyle & Co.) has compiled a list to help prepare for the holiday season’s minefield of scams.
Online Shopping Phishing
While email phishing is certainly no new concern, a new wave of phishing emails seeks to take advantage of online shoppers’ crowded inboxes and scattered attention. A common tactic for scammers is to use an eye-catching subject line associated with online shopping such as “Order Tracking Information” or “Order Cancelled.” These emails pull attention and take advantage of the receiver’s influx of online shopping emails.
These emails typically contain fraudulent links that either prompt malware downloads or open your computer to spyware and, in turn, theft of sensitive data. Protecting against these threats takes focus and skepticism. Rather than clicking the link in the email, go to the website itself and check the status of the order.
Social Media Ad Scams
A relatively new holiday scam has begun on social media. These scammers use data, such as cookies, to create ads catered to an individual. Many of these ads show tempting prices that seem too good to be true (because they are). These ads take people to a legitimate looking website where their transaction is processed like normal, but they never receive any confirmation or the product.
To avoid falling victim to these scams, rather than clicking the ads, a safer option is to do a separate search for the product. Another viable option is to search the name of the company and look for reports of fraud or ratings from consumer protection sites.
Being aware of these cutting edge scams can help consumers avoid falling victim to them. These scams take advantage of the stress and information overload of the holiday season to catch shoppers with their guard down. Remaining skeptical and cautious can help keep you out of the scammers’ traps.