Scammers are targeting online shoppers in unique ways this year

Scam-proofing your holiday online shopping for Cyber Monday
Posted at 7:00 PM, Dec 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-10 19:14:39-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — More people than ever are online shopping this holiday season, but that's also created the perfect opportunity for scammers.

The Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker reported online scams nearly doubled from 2019 to 2020.

Convenience, the pandemic, and supply chain concerns are contributing to the influx in online shoppers.

Krista Kouns with AT&T says scammers are taking advantage of the increased traffic online.

"Cyber criminals never take a day off during the holiday season," said Kouns.

She says shipping delays are also contributing to consumer's willingness to take greater risks.

"A lot of people are waiting on these packages, and it could be an easy time to prey on these people," said Kouns. "Everybody's going to these different websites to try to get their items in time for the holidays."

There are also other purchase scams out there like claims from familiar companies that there's something wrong with your order or account.

"You might get a text message just saying something about your online account or your payment or anything like that with a link embedded in a message or an email," said Kouns. "You want to look for misspellings, maybe low-resolution images, or different, not the correct website."

Kouns says companies will never ask for your pin number via text or email. If there are any doubts, she suggests contacting the company directly.

Purchase scams accounted for nearly 40% of all scams reported to the Better Business Bureau in 2020.

Here is her full list of tips:

  1. Prepaid Card Scam: This is one we see a lot. A caller offers you a deal on service you currently have – but they do not actually work for that company. They will try to get you to buy or send a prepaid debit or gift card to pay for the service. The caller may also offer you a rebate on services. Hang up immediately. Confirm the offer is valid by contacting the company directly.
  2. Beware of amazing deals. Calls, texts, and email about great deals are a favorite tactic for bad guys. If you're contacted by someone you don't know, be careful. It could be a phishing , SMiShing or social engineering attempt. These could lead to fake websites which install malware or "phish" for personal information.
  3. Keep your guard up. Watch out for things like incorrect URLs (website addresses), spelling errors and low-resolution images in emails, text messages, social media posts. And don't click on a link or attachment shared in a suspicious message.
  4. Think twice about the secondary market. You might find a good deal on one of the online sales sites – or not. For example, if you're shopping for a new mobile device and someone is selling a phone for a fraction of the retail cost, it could be stolen or arrive with other concerns. Learn more about secondary market scams in this Cyber Aware blog .
  5. Don't give your PIN to someone who calls for it. Bad guys may try to use your money to buy "gifts." If you get a message with a one-time PIN or code that you didn't know was coming, and then someone contacts you and asks for it – this is a red flag. Don't share the PIN because it could be a bad guy trying to access your account or buy something using your money.
  6. Check out the charity. The season of giving brings out scams which take advantage of our generosity. Some bad guys might pretend to be part of a charitable organization and ask for your help . Be aware. Know who your gift is going to and never share personal or account information.
  7. Don't forget to secure new devices. After giving someone a new smartphone, tablet or other gadget, remind them to set up safety features on their new device.