(WHTM) — October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month and the holiday shopping season is about to shift into high gear.
This is the perfect time for a reminder to be alert about all the potential scammers looking to target you.
“The holiday season is the fraudster’s Superbowl,” Michael Jabbara, head of fraud schemes for Visa said. “It’s the time when all these schemes they’ve been experimenting with over the past few months are ready to be launched at scale to take advantage of consumers.”
Buyer beware. Scam artists are on the prowl and they’re especially online. Jabarra says this year fraudsters are getting even more advanced.
“One of the biggest trends that we’ve observed is around the use of generative AI, things like ChatGPT by fraudsters to create much more sophisticated and believable phishing emails that have a higher rate of success in terms of soliciting sensitive payment information from consumers,” he said.
Ransomware attacks are also on the rise, along with website spoofing and malvertising.
“Setting up a store and then manipulating the search engine optimization, essentially the order of the links that show up when you enter a search on Google. So that you’re more likely to click on that link, even though it’s an illegitimate link. And you fall victim to a trap the fraudsters have set for you,” Jabbara said.
Other online shopping scams include gift card scams and the flash sale scam.
“It’s ‘buy today and you get 80% off’, or ‘if you buy a couch in the next 10 minutes, you can buy a couch for $50.’ These sales are meant to make you make a quick decision for a deal that’s too good to be true,” he said.
All of these traps have one goal: to steal your personal information.
“Your payment data could be used to purchase crypto online or used in combination with other payment information to open up a new account or even take out a loan in your name,” he said.
Jabbara says Visa has spent $10 billion over the past five years on fraud prevention. But you still have to be vigilant.
“The biggest is making sure that you’re doing your research on the stores that you’re buying from. Make sure they have solid reviews, they have been in business for a while,” he said.
Always make sure websites you’re shopping from are secure and look for “https” in the address bar.
Use your common sense.
“The key takeaway being that if an offer is too good to be true, it likely is,” Jabbara said.
One more piece of advice is that it’s best to use a credit card when shopping online. That way, you’ll have an easier time disputing any fraudulent charges.