Cyber Monday began in 2005 as a way for online stores to compete with physical stores’ Black Friday shopping craze. Since then the digital sales statistics have exponentially grown from $484 Million to $7.9 Billion by 2018. This year is expected to be record-breaking for global online retailers who are prepared to take the revenue even higher than ever.

Cyber Monday and Black Friday are game-changers in the retail calendar, however, as the sales go up, online scams increase as well. It is essential to be vigilant and aware of online scams and techniques to ensure safe online shopping.

With the advancement of technology and digital systems, cybercriminals have an even larger spectrum of channels to target individuals. Cybercriminals have a bigger motive than ever to lure impulsive shoppers using phishing sites, look-alike domains, malicious mobile shopping apps, fake ads and gift cards during the holidays. Falling victim to such scams can lead to financial loss, blackmail, breach of personal information and even identity theft.

It is easy to get caught up in the holiday shopping spree and overlook the expenditures amidst the festivities. Shopping over the past decade has changed exponentially, make it extremely easy for individuals to make purchases from the comfort of their own home. With everything going digital and the rise of mobile banking and e-payments, even small to medium-sized retail brands have gone digital with online stores.

This shift has made it easier for cybercriminals to impersonate large-scale brands and leverage their customer base. Though advancement is positive, cybercriminals are also evolving with new ways to commit online fraud. According to researchers, $2.2 Billion of online sales were made using mobile phones last year alone, which makes mobile users a larger target. Typically, the fraudsters may start with small purchases from the victim’s account that can easily be missed, which is why one should be extra mindful of their bank statements.

Awareness is key, when it comes to deals that seem way too-good-to-be-true during the holiday season as they are fake more often than not. Always be skeptical of any such offers or ads, exclusively when they are free of cost. Other factors to keep an eye out for are:

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Safe Online Shopping Tips

  1. Watch out for spoofed emails that offer lucrative deals for a limited time.
  2. Never use public Wi-Fi Connection for transactions.
  3. Avoid free deals/offers (ie. Flights, discounts, theater and shows).
  4. Pause before you click.
  5. Don’t use debit card/credit cards on malicious third party sites/apps.
  6. Never save your credit card on websites/apps.
  7. Beware of fraudulent gift cards and or advertisements.
  8. Enable the “Always Use HTTPS” option on websites that require your credentials.
  9. Only use trusted stores like iTunes or Google Play that practice regular security checks.

Though identity verification techniques such as facial recognition and retinal scanners have improved security, it still remains vulnerable manipulation by fraudsters. It is still of the utmost importance to remain cyber aware. With billions of dollars being spent every year on Cyber Monday and Black Friday, not only do companies rely on your momentary weakness but so do cybercriminals.

Caveat emptor!

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