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Black Friday and Cyber Monday are almost here, and shoppers shopping ahead of the winter holidays should be on the lookout for online scams.
US online sales are expected to reach $ 207 billion this holiday shopping season, November 1 to December 31. according to at Adobe. This is a record and an increase of 10% since 2020, when the Covid pandemic pushed more consumers to shop digitally.
Adobe estimates that Cyber Weekend – from Black Friday to Cyber Monday – will account for about 17% of all sales this holiday season.
According to the recent AARP, 75% of American adults expect their e-commerce through major retailers like Amazon or Walmart to be similar to or greater than the 2020 holiday season. survey…
Criminals are more likely to try to take advantage of the volume – and unwary consumers.
Between January 2020 and October 18 this year, online purchases accounted for nearly 58,000 reports of consumer fraud related to Covid, more than any other category of fraud. according to to the Federal Trade Commission. Consumers lost a total of $ 48 million.
“We are entering an important holiday and tax period and we are urging people to protect their personal information,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said Friday in a warning of potential identity theft that uses that data to file fraudulent tax returns.
Here are three common scams to watch out for around this time of year.
Fake retailers using fake websites can lure consumers in with advertisements for large sales of popular gifts that are out of stock or hard to find elsewhere, according to Social Catfish, an online safety site.
The problem may be more urgent than in previous years due to supply chain problems and higher prices for some goods. According to Adobe, in 2021, consumers will pay an average of 9% more during Cyber Week compared to 2020.
“Out-of-stock notifications remained high throughout 2021 and will remain an issue throughout the season,” says Adobe’s annual holiday shopping forecast.
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There are several clear signs of fraud: According to Social Catfish, the domain name of the fake site will contain an extraneous letter or number, and the site may have grammatical errors or limited contact information.
Consumers should research unfamiliar companies and read customer reviews or search the Internet for a company name with the word “scam,” advised Social Catfish. Also, do not purchase an item by bank transfer, money order, or gift card.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube are “breeding grounds for deception” according to to the Federal Trade Commission.
During the pandemic, platforms increased the amount of malicious content, according to the federal agency.
During the holiday season, brands and influencers generally offer free giveaways to Instagram, according to Social Catfish. Scammers can advertise the chance of winning the holiday prize, but post malicious links in Instagram posts and steal consumer privacy.
According to the AARP, about 38% of consumers reported that they made a purchase in the past 12 months by clicking on social media ads, which could lead them to a cloned legit store site or download malicious software to their device.
According to Social Catfish, consumers should be wary of social media accounts without the blue checkmark (platforms use them to authenticate a page with copycats) and watch out for typos and accounts with a bit of other content.
Consumers are not always safe even after a purchase – shipping of goods is also fertile ground for fraud.
According to Social Catfish, scammers can impersonate FedEx or another shipping company by sending a text or email with a tracking link. But clicking on a link allows attackers to steal personal and financial information about a consumer. Fraudsters can also leave voice messages or place a “missed delivery” tag on a consumer’s door with a number they can call to verify their information.
According to the AARP, about a third of adults have received a fake notification from someone that they are USPS, FedEx, or UPS about a delivery problem.
“Never click on a link or call back from an unexpected delivery receipt,” warns Social Catfish. Contact the company directly using a verified number or website.