It’s the festive season again, and a season of buying gifts for friends and loved ones. Not only is it a season for buying and distributing gifts, but it is also a season for fraud and theft.
From research, it is discovered that cyber theft and fraud are commonest in the holidays and festive season. This shows that not only friends and relatives are after one’s money, but also scammers and online crooks too.
How can you protect yourself from these scammers? To answer this question, one needs to understand their modes of operation, so, it could be countered.
Top Christmas Shopping Scams to Avoid
There are a lot of dubious ways by which hackers could try to get a share of the $730 billion customers are expected to spend this holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation.
1. Fake coupons and gift cards
Coupons are loved by online shoppers, as it provides discounts and special offers. However, scammers capitalize on this to defraud innocent online shoppers.
Beware of third-party websites promising gift cards for another website. You should only aim for gift cards and coupons distributed directly from the official websites.
Any attempt to get an eBay coupon or gift card on an external website is a no-no.
2. Bogus Shipping Notifications
This is another shopping scam you shouldn’t fall victim to this Christmas. Due to the large extent at which people are making orders online.
One may receive a very legitimate-looking email message from FedEx. The message informs that an order is being shipped and requires updating shipping preferences to receive the delivery.
In the process, spyware such as a keystroke logger is downloaded and that makes it possible for all entered information to be stolen.
3. Gift Exchange Scams
The Better Business Bureau has already warned against this. Any type of gift swap, no matter how innocent it might look, should be avoided.
The “secret sister” gift exchange, commonly hosted on Facebook makes you donate a gift to a stranger. The participants are convinced that once they donate a gift to a participant, they receive up to 36 gifts.
This is considered illegal gambling and a scam tactic to extort money from innocent users, and more seriously, their identity.
This is not the only secret Santa scam on the internet this festive season. It is important to personally know all participants of a secret Santa before participating, to avoid losing money and valuables.
4. Cloned Websites
It’s necessary to be wary of all unrequested emails received. All the websites we use were created by someone. Therefore, hackers could easily create a clone of a trusted shopping website. Afterward, they send enticing emails to victims that encourage clicking.
Once the victims get to the fake website, they may be prompted to sign in and once they are signed in to the dubious website, the job is done! Victims may not detect the trick as there is usually redirection to the original website.
The cyber thieves can now access the account with the dubious information collected. They may make dubious purchases and strip victims of their hard-earned money.
A good way to prevent this is to pay attention to the website address. Cloned sites may have a similar URL to the original website, but there must be a variation. For example, a URL spelled Sperncer.com may trick one into believing they’re Spemcer.com.
5. Dubious ad listings
You found a really attractive ad on a classifieds site like Craiglist or Facebook Marketplace. You opted in for it, and due to the excitement, you paid before even seeing the product.
Then, you waited for the product to arrive, and unfortunately, it never arrived. You’ve just suffered a scam attack. These attacks are particularly common during Christmas, as it is a time when people buy and sell presents over the internet.
As classified sites do not usually monitor the distribution of products, it is easy for scammers to post a fake ad listing, convince innocent buyers to pay online, and never deliver the product.
To keep safe from this scam, never make payments before getting the product. Also, be sure to meet at a public place for any transaction, preferably near a police post. All electronic devices should be tested before any payment is made.
6. Counterfeit goods scam
This is another scam tactic common during Christmas. People advertise products with an unreasonable discount. As humans, we jump at the offer, only to discover we get far less than the promised value. In an attempt to return the product, the company would deny manufacturing the product. That’s how the counterfeit goods scam work.
It’s common to see reviews on sites selling branded gifts at a heavily discounted price. Before purchasing that Luis Vuitton bag at 75% off, make some research to know if there is a promotion going on, or just a scam. Reading reviews from credible websites and the company’s official website is a smart way to do this.
Taking a look at these scam techniques, one might discover that they’re all aimed at stripping innocent shoppers of their money through dubious means.
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One mustn’t fall victim to any of these scams, as it may reduce the excitement associated with Christmas. Unless one is very careful, there is a high tendency of falling victim to one of the numerous Christmas scams.
Merry Christmas in advance!