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Watch Out For Black Friday and Cyber Monday Scams

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Sonora, CA — Black Friday/Cyber Monday is one of the biggest shopping events worldwide, and with a rise in online shoppers hunting for a bargain before Christmas comes increased opportunities for cybercriminals.

Cyber scam investigators report that fraudsters are becoming increasingly clever as technology evolves during this busy shopping period, providing the perfect opportunity to exploit the increased volume of transactions and potentially catch shoppers off guard. Their goal is to steal a customer’s money or personal information, such as bank details, login credentials, or a personal address.

“Therefore, to protect themselves, shoppers should take steps to secure their online activities, such as using strong, unique passwords, enabling two-factor authentication, being cautious of phishing attempts, and regularly monitoring their financial statements for any suspicious transactions.”

Cybercrime investigators provided these ten most common Black Friday and Cyber Monday scams:

1.) Incorrect bank details scam:

One of the most common is scammers emailing shoppers to say their billing information is incorrect and that it needs changing immediately or the order will be void. If a retailer asks you to change your bank details with urgency and claims there is a risk of losing out on an order you have made, then you should be suspicious. Essentially, they are hoping to draw you into entering your bank details onto a fake website that they have made to look real. Regardless of whether you believe your bank details are correct or not, you should contact the retailer directly with any order confirmation or information so you can receive legitimate information on your account.

2. Hot deal scam:

While Black Friday weekend is full of hot deals, certain popular items are advertised on fake websites that are generally hard to find.  These items turn out to be illegitimate, which will result in you paying for a product you will never receive, and the scammer now possesses your payment details. If you come across an item like this, check the legitimacy of the product or the seller through the Business Bureau, which will verify.

3. Phishing emails:

Phishing emails are commonly used throughout the year, and Black Friday is no different. Phishing emails are designed to trick users into disclosing sensitive, confidential information. Therefore, it is important to not click on any links or pop-ups from sources that you are not familiar with. This also applies to websites, including suspect URLs (ones with no “https,” or locked padlock symbol on the bar) and websites with poor design.

4. Fake tracking number scam:

Fraudsters are sending fake package tracking notifications as an email attachment or link. Scammers use these tactics to infect your device with malware or direct you to phishing sites Legitimate retailers will never send tracking numbers via an attachment. They are normally directly in your inbox or accessed via the retailer’s website. Therefore, always visit the seller’s site to get accurate tracking information for your order.

5. Instant messages:

Often, you may receive a suspicious-looking message with a link to a well-known website, urging you to click to secure a great deal. Scammers will replicate the retailer website’s URLs and layouts, which makes it extremely hard to spot whether it is fraudulent or not. However, the majority of the time the link is fake, and clicking on it will invite an intrusion of malware on your device, making your personal information vulnerable. Once they have encouraged people to click, they will then send phishing messages and keylogging malware straight to your device. Before clicking on a so-called deal, go directly to the retailer’s official online website to see if that same deal is there.

6. Fake charity scam:

Especially during the Christmas season, there will be a surge in charity donations, and scammers are aware of this. Therefore, they set up fake charities and use high-pressure tactics to get you to donate. Often, you can spot a fake charity based on the fact that they only accept payment through gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency. You can check if a charity is legitimate through the Fundraising Regulator’s online directory.

7. Fake social media profiles:

Social media profiles are simple to impersonate, as all a scammer must do is copy their logo, branding, hashtags, content, etc. This mode of communication can trick customers into giving personal information or data or sell counterfeit products. You can often spot if a social media website is fake through its aggressive advertising campaigns. Always check if there is an alternative official social media account that is verified or has more followers before clicking on the one you have come across.

8. Fake product reviews:

Fake Amazon product reviews are usually over-packed with technical jargon and feature unusual phrases. However, it is in fact humans that are promoting these in exchange for payment from the product manufacturer. There are review exchange clubs online, normally on social media sites, where sellers on sites like Amazon will offer goods in return for overly generous comments—often ones that are extremely misleading. Therefore, if you want to get a more accurate review of a product, compare reviews of the same product on several other official retailers before you purchase.

9. ‘Grey Market’ distribution:

During Black Friday, brands will be using all kinds of channels to market and sell their products. However, when a product falls out of a brand’s authorized network, they will no longer have control. When this happens, unauthorized sellers may not properly display, package, handle, or ship the items correctly. Therefore, returning or exchanging the product will be a lot more difficult.

10. Gift cards and discount scams:

Gift cards are a popular gift at Christmas, which is why scammers will offer gift cards at a discount, but these cards are either empty or stolen. You should only buy gift cards from reputable sources, such as the retailer’s official store or online website. Similarly, discounts and coupons received via email or social media that are advertised as huge discounts can also be void. Therefore, verify the source of the coupon to ensure it is valid before using it.

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