5 safe shopping tips for the holidays from experts


Scammers and cybercriminals love the holidays because it gives them more opportunities to steal your data and your money.

In an effort to stay safe, Fox News has compiled a list of five tips to look out for when you’re doing your holiday shopping.

YOUR STOLEN CREDIT CARD MAY END UP HERE

AVOID AT-HOME RANSOMWARE

The first thing shoppers should do is separate work and personal devices, said Unit 42 of Palo Alto Networks, a cybersecurity firm. 

While attackers have largely targeted corporations, schools and hospitals, “we may see consumers who are working from home and doing their shopping on their work devices get targeted by attackers,” Unit 42 said.

The ultimate goal for criminals is to get onto the consumer’s work device, then get on the corporate network and infect the organization with ransomware. If an infection is successful, it’s often catastrophic.

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE

If a deal looks too good to be true, then it’s probably a scam, according to an advisory from the FBI Houston office.

Scammers will offer these too-good-to-be-true deals via, for example, phishing emails. “Such schemes may offer brand name merchandise at extremely low discounts or promise gift cards as an incentive to purchase a product,” the FBI explained. 

Additionally, sites may offer products at a great price but “the products being sold are not the same as the products advertised,” the FBI added.

DOUBLE-CHECK WEBSITE NAMES

Cybercriminals play games with domain names with the hope of tricking you into visiting bogus sites that look like they belong to major brands.

Known as cybersquatting, cybercriminals register domain names that “appear related to existing domains or brands, with the intent of profiting from consumers’ typing mistakes,” according to Unit 42. For example, creating sites like walrmart44[.]com. Here Walmart is misspelled by one letter with the hope that consumers won’t notice and click on the malicious link.

“FORMJACKING”

Watch your credit card statement.

Formjacking happens when cybercriminals inject malicious JavaScript code to hack a website – for example, a retailer’s checkout page. “It is designed to steal credit card details and other personal information from payment forms that are captured on the checkout pages of shopping websites,” Unit 42 added.

Since formjacking is hard to detect when it’s happening – and the transaction will go through – consumers should double-check their credit card statements as that’s really the only way to detect suspicious activity, Unit 42 added.

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GIFT CARD SCAMS

Fraudulent gift cards are often advertised on social media sites, the FBI said.

“Some may pose as holiday promotions or contests. It may even appear one of your friends shared the link with you. Often, these scams lead you to participate in an online survey that is actually designed to steal personal information,” the FBI said. 

And be careful if someone “in authority” asks you to purchase gift cards for them. In these scams, the victims are tricked into purchasing multiple gift cards for either personal or business reasons. It’s probably a scam, the FBI said. And beware when they require you to pay with a gift card.

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