Cyber Monday: FBI Tweets 'Holiday Scam' Warning Message

Cyber Monday is here, and so are the scammers. Expected to be one of the biggest shopping days of the year aside from Black Friday (last year, consumers spent $7.9 billion on Cyber Monday), the threat of scammers on a day like Cyber Monday is so great that the FBI has even issued a warning to consumers. Taking to Twitter ahead of the shopping rush, the organization warned, “Mark sure the websites you visit are secure and reputable before you provide personal information like your credit card number. Steer clear of unfamiliar websites”

According to TransUnion’s 2019 Holiday Retail Fraud Survey, about 75 percent of Americans are planning to do at least some of their holiday shopping online this year, something that Stacy Arruda, CEO and Principle of Arruda Group, told WFTS Tampa Bay is “like a buffet for cyber criminals.”

“This is like a buffet for cyber criminals because they can just pepper people with phishing emails and offer them great deals and since everybody’s in shopping mode they’re going to click on everything they see, which is dangerous,” Arruda said.

Although consumers “demand that retailers not only provide them with a secure checkout process, but also make it as convenient as possible,” there are many things that they can do to ensure safe online shopping practices. In anticipation of the Cyber Monday shopping rush, the Better Business Bureau has laid out a guideline on how to avoid scammers this holiday shopping season.

According to the Bureau, when consumers log online and start their shopping, they should first be on the lookout for false advertising, which can be detected by looking at the prices of products (if it seems too good to be true, it probably is) and by looking at the web address. Consumers should make sure that websites have correct spelling and legitimate contact and customer service information. They should also ensure that websites have secure web addresses, which begin with HTTPS:// and not just HTTP://.

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With dozens of emails filling inboxes as retailers put out their best deals, shoppers should also be aware of phishing scams by looking out for “unsolicited emails, texts, calls, or letters” that may contain messages claiming “you have a free gift waiting for you or that there is a problem with a delivery – all you need to do is click on a link or give up your personal information.” Such messages should be ignored.

Before checking out, it is also recommended that consumers make purchases with their credit card and not their debit card, as charges can be contested through credit cards.