Today is "Cyber Monday", the biggest online-shopping day of the year. And no doubt, you have already been bombarded by emails and Facebook ads for the hottest deals. But before you click on any links, before you give your credit card information to anyone online, be sure to find out who's naughty or nice!
Holidays are a time when scammers put their social engineering skills to use, enticing us to buy - or at least try to buy - the hottest holiday gifts at prices that are too good to be true. One of the most common online scams involves setting up fake shopping web sites where you can purchase great deals. However, once you enter your credit card information, the scam site is able to charge your card and you get...nothing.
With new technology comes new types of attacks. For instance, shopping with a mobile phone in hand is common now. We often walk down the aisle of our favorite big-box store scanning barcodes and comparing prices. New mobile-phone malware has appeared, promising to help you in your online shopping comparison, but instead of delivering bargains, it sends your information to the bad guys, or makes charges to your mobile phone bill.
Facebook scams usually entice you to "like" ads or companies that promise you a hot bargain. However, these are often a form of promotion, since every time you "like" someone on Facebook it appears in your timeline. Your like essentially acts as an endorsement for the phony company, and your unknowing friends spread the promotion by following your example and "like" it, too!
Some good rules to follow during the holidays:
- If the deal is too good to be true, it probably is. Be very, very, skeptical of bargains that arrive in your inbox from unknown retailers.
- Never, ever click on a link in an email or Facebook post before verifying the link is good. If the email appears to be from a well-known retailer like Amazon or Apple, skip the link in the email, and go straight to the site in your browser.
- Use a credit card instead of a debit card when making purchases online. Most credit card companies limit your obligation when you've been scammed online. Debit card transactions have no such limitations on liability. A scammer can take every dime from your bank account, and your bank has no obligation to limit your loss.
Here are some good resources for helping you stay safe during the holiday shopping: