Why Holiday Scammers Step Up Their Game

Even though con artists are continually active online, over the holidays they tend to step up their game and make more of an effort.

Mark Ostrowski, who works for Check Point Software Technologies, believes that malicious people “have all the stars aligning” in their favour.

Swindlers Take Advantage of Holiday Cheer to Scam People

Swindlers could take advantage of people’s desire to help others during the holiday season by sending them misleading emails or messages about great deals, or by appealing to the people’s altruistic nature by asking them to donate to a cause. Both of these tactics could be used to take advantage of people’s generosity.

You do not have to be a Scrooge to avoid these con artists; but, you should be on the lookout for unwanted emails and text messages.

You should keep up with this routine throughout the entire year, by the way. While you’re at it, keep in mind the strategies con artists employ during the holiday season as well as the ways in which your behaviour online puts you in danger in general.

The following is some guidance that has been gathered by Ostrowski, a researcher for Norton named Kevin Roundy, and other security experts on how to protect yourself from being a victim of online frauds over the holiday season.

What shopping site do you use most often to shop for gifts?

Before Amazon, people who wanted to shop for gifts during the Christmas season had to fight the crowds at the shopping mall or in a local shopping area. In order to get their hands on a television or video game console at such a ridiculously low price, true bargain seekers were required to stand in line far before sunrise.

Even though this still takes place from time to time (just think back to the PlayStation 5 craze in 2016), the majority of shoppers now complete their holiday shopping online. To put it another way, an increasing number of consumers are making their purchases online and having them shipped directly to their homes.

Con artists now have a larger opportunity to pose as legitimate internet enterprises, whether it be newly opened online marketplaces or well-established shipping corporations. This applies to both types of websites.

A shipping hoax was responsible for one out of every six malicious emails that were received during the first ten days of this month, according to the research section of Check Point. These will frequently employ a sense of immediacy in order to coerce you into clicking on a link without giving it much thought.

They might let you know, for example, that your delivery service is dealing with technical issues that require your immediate attention since they are urgent.

Have you been the victim of a fraudulent email or text message?

If you select that link, your device may become infected with malware, or it may take you to a website that will attempt to deceive you into giving confidential information. Both of these outcomes are possible.

Because of how effective they are, these techniques are used by almost everyone. Is there any type of electronic communication that is more difficult to ignore than one that purports to come from UPS and includes a tracking number as well as a link to the relevant website? Or it may have been a message from FedEx informing them that there was a problem with the delivery of the shipment. Not in my opinion, if I may be so bold. However, you will need to put up a fight.

One technique to spot potentially fraudulent emails is to search for misspellings and grammatical errors, as well as look for a domain in the sender’s address that does not correspond to the one used by the shipping firm.

Visit the website of the shipping firm and enter the tracking number that the shop supplied rather than reacting to the emails that have been sent to you. It is a straightforward and safe method to obtain all of the information you require concerning your shipment.

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Beware of con artists this holiday season!

You have probably been exposed to the age-old proverb “If a deal appears too good to be true, it probably is” an excessive number of times to count. In spite of this, the veracity of a proverb does not suffer simply because it is repeated so frequently.

As a matter of fact, this is more important than it has ever been before due to the fact that con artists intentionally target bargain hunters with intricate traps.

According to Roundy, the problem is that during the holiday season, most of us have a tendency to be laxer with our security procedures. Approximately one-third of persons in the United States, he noted, are more willing to take risks over the holiday season.

To tell you the truth, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to learn that more than a third of them had lost an average of $387 due to retail fraud.

Beware of Fake Luxury Handbag Websites This Holiday Season

The following is a description of one type of prank that might be played on you this year. According to Check Point Research, in just the second week of November, approximately 15,000 fake websites promoting replicas of luxury handbags were formed.

These stores may try to overcharge you for replicas of high-end luxury labels such as Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Balenciaga that they sell. Your personal information, such as the number on your credit card, can also be a target of the attack.

On Black Friday, retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart held special marketing known as “doorbuster” sales, which led buyers to feel they could get incredible deals. However, Roundy strongly advised customers to think about whether or not it would be profitable for a reputable retailer to offer such steep discounts on a popular item.

Additionally, you shouldn’t trust a new vendor simply because their website is flashy and has thousands of products listed on it.

What are some common traits that all fake online retailers share?

According to Roundy, the websites that con artists develop are extremely well done and professional looking. Because our gut feelings let us down so frequently, it is imperative that we exercise extreme caution in the present moment.

You have a better chance of avoiding falling for fake online retailers if you tap into the expertise of the general people. Roundy suggested grabbing the URL of an unfamiliar website, pasting it into a search engine, and include the words “scam” and “review” in the query.

On websites such as Reddit and Scam Adviser, users are eager to give their feedback and share their perspectives. According to Roundy, websites that have been around for a while have a greater propensity to provide detailed user input; nevertheless, this feature is susceptible to manipulation.

Scam websites almost always contain a number of bad reviews or significant portions of reviews that are negative, and these are generally mixed with a series of brief, overwhelmingly positive evaluations that were most likely authored by the scammer.

What is the most important thing to do when purchasing an item online?

In addition to this, he emphasised the need of examining the feedback left by sellers on online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon.com. It can be to your advantage much to be aware of which ones can be trusted and which ones cannot be trusted.

The fraud-detection company Social Catfish discovered that con artists commonly use the allure of deeply discounted game consoles and gift cards as a means to persuade their victims into sending them money in order to fulfil their fraudulent schemes.

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According to Social Catfish’s advice, consumers should avoid falling victim to scams involving the acquisition of electronic goods from websites that have a design that is deceptively similar to that of the retailer from whom they intend to purchase the goods.

According to Roundy, it is a distinct possibility that the vendor of a discounted gift card is, in reality, engaged in the practise of money laundering for the purpose of a criminal enterprise.

How to avoid getting scammed when shopping online

When purchasing or selling on specialised websites or markets such as EBay, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace, it may be beneficial to make use of a reverse image search service such as Social Catfish or the free Google Lens application for further peace of mind.

You can check the item’s authenticity by submitting a photo of it to a website that performs a reverse image search. For example, if the seller includes a photo of the item, such as a dog or a fancy dress, you can do this.

It’s likely that the search will turn up evidence that the vendor copied the image from another website and used it without permission.

An additional obstacle for people who like to shop for deals is the presence of counterfeit and “grey market” goods. These are models that are marketed by American companies overseas at prices that are lower than those offered in the United States; nevertheless, the warranty offered by the manufacturer may not apply in the United States.

Amazon Acknowledges Increased Efforts to Fight Counterfeit Goods

Amazon acknowledged in June that it is devoting more resources to the fight against the sale of counterfeit goods, and that the company believes the situation is getting better as a result.

Giving Tuesday was initially held for the first time in 2012, and it was coordinated by a loose confederation of charity organizations from all over the world. On and around “Giving Tuesday,” which will take place on November 29 of this year, a large number of charitable organizations will be collecting donations via the internet.

You should prepare for a significant number of inquiries similar to this one to arrive in your mailbox. According to what Roundy has stated, the most typical method that con artists use to discover potential victims is through the use of email. Con artists will now have a chance of contacting you through your email account as a result of this.

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) issues a warning that during the holiday season, charity scams are significantly more common than any other type of scam. Almost half of those who participated in the survey stated that they had been approached by a phoney charity.

What is the difference between the legitimate GoFundMe and the bogus one?

According to Roundy, con artists will often pretend to be legitimate organizations in order to trick victims into giving them money by claiming they need it for charitable causes.

If you click on the link that is supplied in the email, rather than being brought to the website of the charity, you will be routed to the website of the con artist, where they will attempt to steal your money or your personal information.

Criminals may take advantage of a high-profile disaster or emergency to bolster the legitimacy of their bogus GoFundMe efforts, which they then utilise to steal money from the people who the campaign is ostensibly intended to help.

Alternately, they might fabricate social media profiles in order to propagate erroneous information regarding a celebrity’s charitable endeavours and promote it.

Don’t Be Scammed Out of Your Money by a Fake Charity!

According to Roundy, the most effective approach to protect yourself from falling victim to a con of this nature is to ensure that you never attempt to transmit money through a link contained in an electronic message, text message, or social media post. You ought to make your contribution to the organization through their website instead.

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In addition, he said that red flags, such as misspellings, grammatical problems, and unique ways of phrasing things, can be discovered in emails relating to charities in the same way that they can be found in any unsolicited letter.

These red flags include: According to Roundy, fraudulent charities will give themselves names that are eerily similar to those of genuine organizations in the hopes of persuading people to give them money. According to him, even though it gives off the impression of authority, it is not the real deal.

On the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, many businesses set up “Giving Tuesday” gateways on their websites. These gateways allow employees to make charitable contributions to organizations of their choice (and possibly get matching gifts). The goal of all of this is to increase the number of risk-free donations.

What are some of the ways in which a charity may be exempt from paying taxes?

In addition, if there is a particular charity that you are interested in learning more about, you are free to conduct your own research on the organization. The database of organizations that are exempt from paying taxes that is maintained by the Internal Revenue Service is a valuable resource.

On the other hand, organizations such as Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, and the Better Business Bureau have developed search engines that are simple to use and can provide you with information regarding the legitimacy of a charity as well as the efficiency with which it is administered.

The Federal Trade Commission offers guidance on how to recognise and steer clear of scams related to Giving Tuesday charities. The Internal Revenue Service provides guidance for a Giving Tuesday that is free of potential dangers.

The use of payment methods that cannot be reversed is popular among scam artists operating online. When a company refuses to take credit cards as a form of payment, it can be very disconcerting.

What was the first guideline for conducting commercial transactions?

Never do business with someone who insists on being paid with gift cards; this is the first and most important guideline of conducting commercial transactions. Con artists all over the world enjoy employing this strategy because it is so difficult to get their hands back on the stolen money.

In addition, utilising Zelle to make a transaction is not a significantly better option because the service provides very little to assist in the recovery of monies that have been stolen by fraudsters. If you want to make a payment, using Zelle is exactly the same as handing over cash.

The second cardinal rule is to never do business with anyone who insists on getting paid in a way that isn’t directly related to the service they are providing to you, the customer. This is because getting paid in a way that isn’t directly related to the service they are providing to you is unethical.

EBay, Etsy and StockX offer options to assist you in recouping money lost to fraud.

If you use the payment processing services of EBay, Etsy, or StockX and you become a victim of fraud, each of these online marketplaces has options to assist you in recouping the money that was fraudulently taken from you. Warning signs include making payment directly to the seller rather than going via a middleman.

If the transaction you completed qualifies for either PayPal’s or Venmo’s buyer protection standards, the companies may be able to offer you assistance.

Venmo customers, in contrast to PayPal users, are required to first determine whether or not their purchase is eligible for protection before selecting the protection option during the checkout process. PayPal users receive this security feature immediately.

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