If a Deal Looks Too Good, Then It’s Likely Not A Deal

What a DEAL!

If the deal looks too good to be true then it’s not a good deal.  You will see many good deals on Cyber Monday BUT which one’s are the good deals and which one’s are the hackers deals.

The holiday season continues to start earlier and earlier each year.  This is true for scammers, too.  They’re not waiting until Cyber Monday to start their shopping.

(Source:  https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us)

Every year the scammers and cybercriminals get more and more creative – and the scams more elaborate. 

Last year, many were around home services. This year, we’re placing our bets on tech gadgets and gifts to be the leading scam category. Apple, Motorola, Google, Amazon, Sonos, and Sony have each released the “must-have” tech just in time for Christmas. The scammers have registered knock-off domains to leading retailers, launched an all out blitz of phishing email campaigns, and even purchased promoted advertisements on search engines in an attempt to mislead American consumers. Should you accidentally land on one of the scammy sites the cyber criminals will abscond with your hard earned money faster than a 16 year old with the car keys and a credit card.

So, what should you be looking for to spot the scammers? 

If it looks too good to be true offers . . .

Too-good-to-be-true offers for services or products, even minor inconsistencies in websites (fonts, colors, behavior), and ridiculous coupons or offers sent to you out-of-the-blue. We’re already seeing coupons that offer complimentary 4K UHD Televisions, the latest Pixel/Droid/iPhone phones, and even tablet computers all over sites on the Internet. These offers are usually scams. Don’t fall for it. Make sure the offers are from a legitimate company and purchased from a legitimate site.

Don’t click the link for a package . . .

Watch out for alerts via email or text that you just received a package from FedEx, UPS or the US Mail, and then asks you for some personal information. Don’t enter anything.

Similarly, if you didn’t make an online purchase and aren’t expecting a package from a carrier, don’t click on links from emails indicating that a package is being delivered. If you’re in question about a tracking number that’s sent via email, open a separate browser and navigate directly to the respective delivery carrier’s website. There you can enter the tracking number directly and know that you are on a legitimate site with legitimate information.

Mobile devices are especially targeted and equally vulnerable. If you receive an email that you don’t recognize or that meets any of the tests we mentioned here, don’t open it on your phone. It could be weaponized or exploit flaws in your mobile phone’s operating system to steal your information / passwords.

A couple more things to watch out for . . 

The price of freedom is constant alertness and willingness to fight back. To help limit and isolate your liability only use credit cards online, never debit cards. Be super-wary of bulk email with crazy good BUY NOW offers and anything that looks slightly “off”. Very realistic clones of nearly every major retail site has been spotted on the dark web in the past months. That includes Amazon, Zones, Best Buy, and even Kohls.  If you think you might have been scammed, stay calm and call your credit card company. Kill that credit card get a new one. It’s a hassle, yes, but it could save you valuable time and money in the long run.

Secure your Passwords . . .

Since you took the time to read this, we’d suggest that you take about the same amount of time and further secure your online presence. That includes never re-using passwords between sites, turning-on two-factor authentication wherever you can, and using some type of centralized encrypted password manager (we like LastPass / LastPass Enterprise) to help you keep all of those passwords safe.

On the other side of Cyber Monday are the weeks leading up to Christmas. That is like an extended episode of GOT with all of the hacks, scams, and other cyber-shenanigans dropping daily. When shopping online, reading an email always consider the tips above . . . it’s not just happening during the holiday, it’s all year round!  Share this post with everyone so the hackers don’t win this holiday season.