Scam of the day – November 2, 2017 – Phony retailer website shopping scams

Although it is not yet even Halloween, many people have already turned their attention to the upcoming holiday shopping season and for many of us, shopping online is both more convenient and often more economical than shopping in a brick and mortar store.  The problem is that scammers are quite adept at setting up phony websites to sell shoddy or even non-existent items.  Many times, the scammers will make their websites appear to be those of legitimate retailers in order to trick people into trusting them and it takes little skill to make a phony website that looks just like that of a legitimate retailer that you trust.

So how can you keep from being scammed?

TIPS

The first indication that you are shopping on a scammer’s website is often that the price looks to be good to be true.  Most of the time, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is a scam.

Scams are often perpetrated by people whose primary language is not English so be on the lookout for grammar and spelling mistakes in the website.

A good place to evaluate a website selling retail goods is www.resellerRatings.com where you can find reviews about particular merchants and see if they are legitimate.  If they are not even listed there, they probably are a scam.

Finally, it can be very helpful to find out to whom the website where you are considering shopping is registered. You can go to www.whois.com/whois/ and find out who actually owns the website at which you are considering shopping and if it doesn’t match who they say they are, you should stay away from it.

Scam of the day – December 8, 2016 – Holiday online shopping scams

Imagine Andy Williams singing, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and it may indeed be the most wonderful time of the year for many people, but it is not so wonderful if you have been scammed by cybercriminals who really do find the holiday shopping season to be the most wonderful time of the year – for them.   I received an email today showing me how I could get iPads and iPhones at 90% discounts by clicking on links and ordering them online.  If I had clicked on the links, all I would have succeeded in doing would have been paying electronically for goods that I never would have received.  Meanwhile, by clicking on the links, I also would have run the risk of unknowingly downloading keystroke logging malware that could have stolen all of the information from my computer, such as my Social Security number, credit card number and other financial data and made me a victim of identity theft.

People also get in trouble when they go to phony websites that appear to be those of legitimate retailers and turn over their credit card information to a scammer and never get the goods they think they are purchasing.

TIPS

If an offer sounds too good to be true, it usually is.  Scammers always pick the most popular and expensive items to lure people into sending them money for goods that never are delivered.  Never click on links in emails, tweets or text messages unless you are sure the communications are legitimate and it is hard to do so without calling the legitimate company because even if it truly appears to be coming from a legitimate person or entity, their email, twitter, or smart phone may have been hacked into and the communication you receive is from a scammer.  Only deal with companies that you know are legitimate and confirm that you are actually on a legitimate website because phony websites can look quite good.

As for online shopping websites, there are a few ways you can determine whether or not a shopping website is legitimate or not.  First, find out who actually owns the website. Websites such as http://lookwhois.net/ will enable you to merely put in the URL and see who actually owns the website you are considering using for shopping.  If it doesn’t match the  legitimate company that you think you are doing business with, you will know to stay away.  Also, call the company at a telephone number you know is legitimate to confirm the precise website URL that they use.

Scam of the day – December 2, 2015 – New holiday shopping threat

Cybersecurity firm iSight Partners is warning about a new type of malware it has identified as ModPOS, which stands for “Modular point of sale” that can be used to hack into the credit and debit card processing machines of retailers with an unprecedented level of sophistication that makes it incredibly difficult to defend against.  It is believed that many retailers have already been hacked and are merely not yet aware of this fact.  The hacking appears to have originated in Eastern Europe.  Unlike older versions of malware used to steal credit and debit card information from retailers, this strain of malware appears to be capable of stealing much more information from the targeted companies.  It can be expected that the effects of this malware attack will become apparent after the holiday shopping season when the harvested data is anticipated to be sold on black market websites to other criminals.

TIPS

Obviously, retailers still using the old magnetic strip technology are in much greater danger than those using the more secure EMV chip card technology, however even some of the EMV processing equipment is potentially vulnerable to particularly sophisticated attacks that may be able to get the credit card number for use in online purchases.

So what can we do to protect ourselves?

First and foremost, use your credit card rather than your debit card where the laws protecting you from fraudulent use are not as strong.  If you have a new EMV card, use it whenever possible, preferably at stores that are equipped to process the card through EMV chip technology and not the magnetic strip with which it also comes equipped.  Monitor your credit card statements often to identify if your card has been hacked and report it to your credit card company as soon as possible.  Federal law limits your liability for unauthorized credit card purchases to no more than $50 and most credit card issuers will not hold you responsible for any fraudulent charges.