For most people, it is their favorite time of the year. We have waited roughly 365 days for stores to have endless sales, in-store and online coupons, and deals we can’t pass up to buy for our family, friends, loved ones, or simply for us. We are all guilty of going to a store and pulling out our electronic devices and typing in on the internet, “coupons for …” and doing a quick search to see if we can save a couple bucks on something. But what does this really mean for us? For one, searching the web for a coupon and shopping online leaves us vulnerable to online hackers retrieving our information, whether it is through a fake coupon we clicked online, a fake website being used, or simply not being cautious. Secondly, stores will have their fair share of targets on them, too. Security breaches have skyrocketed this year because of the advanced uses of technology. There has been roughly a 52% threat increase since 2015 and the year isn’t over yet (Threat Metrix). To get a better, more closer look at the “Holiday Hackers”, we are going to describe a few cases to be aware of. Online fraud could increase as much as a whopping 106%!
Phony Coupons– Remember, if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is! 2016 was the year for phony coupons. Hackers waited like clock work, especially on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, for users to type in on their internet browsers “coupons for…” and click on their website. While you are in a hurry, simply scanning through the top sites seeing if one coupon is better than the other, you click on one you find amazing. But, what did you just do? You’ve opened up your phone to the Holiday Hackers. Consumers are drawn to deals, especially ones for cheap electronics, but hackers are prepared with their phishing scams. Always check and make sure the website you are on is from a secured site. Look for “https” and check the name of it BEFORE clicking on the actual link to open.
Online Shopping– BEWARE. Not all websites are bad; though, it is ideal to buy from a trusted, well-known source. If the website has few ratings, advertises for SUPER CHEAP DEALS, again it is most likely a fake. Be smart where you put your credit card/debit card information in. Cybercriminals are now creating fake websites intended to look like the real thing. It’s a practice known as typosquatting. What scammers are doing is securing URLs that are similar to the real ones. For example, instead of youtube.com they could create a URL of yootube.com, slightly misspelling the original.
The good news? We brought it to your attention! If you were a victim or you are thinking back to a recent purchase or deal that you are unsure about, keep an eye on your credit card/ debit card statements and run scans on your computer or phone. If you are very worried, change passwords and contact your banks to issue new cards and run a credit report. It doesn’t hurt to be TOO CAUTIOUS. Steer clear of the HOLIDAY HACKERS and have a HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!