Every year hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets and their laptops in hopes of catching the greatest deals of the holiday buying season. Scammers know this as well, and this is the time of year that they hope your everyday shopper will drop their guard when it comes to fraud protection for a chance at that unbelievable holiday deal. So, as the holiday buying season approaches, we’ve compiled some of the most common scam scenarios that government and private information advocacy groups think you should watch out for.
Free Gift Card Scam
It’s not uncommon for people to comparison shop on their mobile devices. So, scammers will often mass text a bank of numbers with a “free gift card code” that potential victims would enter on a fraudulent website. Once on the fake website scammers will ask for additional information, promising a free gift card to a major retailer in exchange for private information. Of course, the gift cards don’t really exist, and the scammers now have a plethora of personal information that was unwittingly handed over by deal-crazed shoppers.
Most of us are familiar with the “Elf Yourself” video craze that first hit the internet around 2010, but not every promise of an entertaining holiday video on Facebook or Twitter is legit. These phishing schemes will promise social media users a hilarious holiday themed video in exchange for sharing the video out to their social network. However, much like with the fake gift card scam, once the user chooses to share the video scammers simply phish personal information from the users social media account.
Near Miss Websites
The number of queries sent to search engines on Cyber Monday is enormous. Scammers know this as well and will often construct elaborate fake websites with web addresses that use common misspellings of major brands – think BesstBuy.com instead of BestBuy.com. In search of great deals many users will mistake the fake site for a real one as the hackers behind such scams will simply mimic the content and design of the legitimate website to further confuse their victims. This type of scam is especially dangerous as many online shoppers pay only glancing attention to the address of the website on which they’re shopping.
Take Your Time and Protect Yourself
The common scams listed above are easily preventable if you simply slow down and think. We all want to get the best pricing we can when it comes to popular items, but double checking web addresses, examining senders of emails, and recognizing when an offer is too good to be true can go a long way to keeping your financial and personal information secure during the hectic holiday season. Online escrow is also an absolute must for those buying and selling through online classified and auctions sites.