We are about to enter the holiday shopping season and many of us will be making purchases over digital platforms, using computers, tablets and mobile phones. Unfortunately, customers aren’t the only ones who are going to be active online, fraudsters are also gearing up to make the most of the holiday time period.
This means you will likely receive a bunch of fraudulent e-mails and run into a lot of fake ads as well as false websites with phoney deals. Here are a few tips on how to avoid being fooled online:
1) Look for offers on the store’s actual website, don’t use a search engine.
Many stores post ads with offers online. Fraudsters use this knowledge to their advantage by creating fake websites that look just like the websites of actual stores/chains. The offers that they display on their fake websites are often too good to be true. Instead of just buying the product, you risk becoming the victim of phishing and harmful code.
Tip: If you are looking for a specific offer, go straight to the store’s website instead of searching for the store via a search engine. That way you avoid the abundance of fake ads that fraudsters push out and make search engines show you.
2) Be suspicious of offers through e-mail
Many stores and chains send out information about their products via e-mail. Unfortunately, this practice too is exploited by fraudsters. They try to fool you by creating fake e-mails that look just like the e-mail that the real store would send you. They even look like they have been sent from the store’s own e-mail address. However, when you click on a link in such an e-mail you may run into harmful code. The harmful code is designed to steal your card information when you make a purchase. This kind of attack is known as ”cross-site scripting”, or XSS.
Tip: Avoid falling victim of fake e-mails and XSS attacks by writing the address to the store’s website yourself. Don’t click on links in e-mails!
3) Watch out for fraud in social media
Many of us use social media and so do fraudsters. They may, for example, post messages with links to fake offers on Facebook accounts that have been hacked. These messages end up in the flow of the victim’s friends, spreading quickly to their respective friends. After all, a great offer is worth sharing, right?
Tip: Avoid being fooled in social media by going straight to the store’s website and check if the offer really exists. Write the address yourself, don’t click on links or pop-up windows!
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