Cyber Monday scams targeting shoppers, FBI warns


Scammers are to make for a blue Christmas for cyber shoppers, using an array of online betrayal and fake offers that just an estimated $1 billion this year, according to the FBI.

In a report titled ‘ Tis the Season for Holiday Scams,” the FBI urged shoppers to be aware of the increasingly aggressive and creative scams designed by criminals to steal money and personal information. Fake offers, fake surveys, and malware hidden in fake come-ons are all at a fever pitch today, as customers take part in Cyber Monday, the online version of Black Friday.

“If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is,” the FBI said in a statement. “You can pay for an item, giving away personal information, and you get nothing in return, except for a compromised identity.”

A separate report from ACI Worldwide, a payment systems company, predicted that online fraud attempts increase by 43 percent in the United States during this year’s holiday season.

According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, California, Florida, Texas, New York and Illinois are the states that saw the highest number of of the alleged scam victims in 2015, to contribute to the total of more than $1 billion in cyber scam losses for 2015.

Cybersecurity research firm RiskIQ found in a study of five leading e-commerce retail brands that consumers hitting the web for Cyber Monday, offers are at a high risk of identity theft and hacking, with thousands of unsafe and malicious web sites that pose as sellers.

For shopping online, the FBI recommends the securing of all bank and credit card accounts with a “strong and different” passwords. But the shoppers, not only on the risk factors on the retail web sites — the FBI is now warning to beware of social media messages and smartphone Apps.

“Beware of posts on social media sites that appear to offer vouchers or gift cards, even if it seems as if the offer was shared by a friend online,” according to the FBI statement. “Some people can masquerade as holiday promotions or contests which lead to participation in an online survey designed to steal personal information.”

The FBI also warns shoppers not to post photos of tickets for events on social media profiles, such as fraudsters can make use of the barcodes to re-sell tickets for re-sale. Fraudsters also are expected to focus on cosmetics, wireless headphones, sneakers, and other lower-priced items, including ‘Gift with Purchase the products which can be easily re-sold on the black market or through auction websites.

According to the ACI Worldwide report, the average fraudulent transaction is estimated to be $219, an 8 percent decrease from last year $239 as a result of alternative methods, such as pick-up in-store.

But the shoppers can’t let their guards down as the calendar approaches Dec. 25 — the ACI Worldwide report projects that the expected peak fraud day will be christmas Eve, with nearly 2.5 per cent of fraud by the popularity of gift cards and last-minute gifts.

The FBI sends all customers who suspect they have been the victim of Internet fraud, immediately contact their financial institution and enforcement of the law, and encourages the consumers to file a complaint with the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center, regardless of the amount in dollars lost.

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