Despite the dour economic climate, spending is on the rise this holiday season.
Experts are predicting a 3 to 4 percent increase in spending this holiday season over last year’s sales of $471.5 billion.
And an increasing number of people are expected to spend their money online.
However, online shoppers could be prone to cybercrime if they aren't careful, according to the Clearwater-based Internet security awareness training firm, KnowBe4.
The company has released the top five cyber scams facing online shoppers and offers tips Westchase residents can use to avoid becoming victims.
1—The Evil Wi-Fi Twin
Scam: Cybercriminals put out a Wi-Fi signal that looks similar to a free one that you always use. Choose the wrong Wi-Fi and the hacker can steal credit card data while you’re shopping online.
Tip: When using a Wi-Fi connection in public, never give out your credit card information.
2—The Search Term Trap
Scam: Hackers build sites that profess to have high-demand items. That site gets pushed onto the search engines and people may click on links that go to the site. That site contains malware and will infect your PC.
Tip: Make sure that your web browser is fully updated and will warn you if a site is unsafe.
3—The Fake Recession Relief
Scam: Internet swindlers target people who are vulnerable, due to the recession, with pay-in-advance scams and credit offers. Spam emails advertise “prequalified, super-low-interest” credit cards and loans if you pay a processing fee, which goes straight into the scammer’s pocket.
Tip: Learn the guidelines of how to spot a harmful email.
4—The Extra Holiday Money Fraud
Scam: Cyber-fraudsters are offering work-from-home scams. They get people to fill out a form which requests confidential information (such as your Social Security number) so they can then steal your identity.
Tip: Never provide confidential information unless the Website is credible and has been verified as safe.
5—The DM (Direct Message) Scam
Scam: After you’ve tweeted about an item for your holiday wish list, a direct message (DM) from another twitter user offering to sell the same item may appear.
Tip: Stop, look, think—because this could very well be a sophisticated scam. If you do not know that person, be careful before you continue, and never pay up front.
While shoppers need to be cautious during the holidays, KnowBe4 advises that people and businesses should be trained on how to prevent cyberattacks at home or in the office, no matter the time of the year.
“Online shopping is vulnerable to cyberattacks, and people need to understand that it happens in homes, as well as businesses, due to lack of training,” commented Stu Sjouwerman, CEO and founder of KnowBe4.
KnowBe4 is committed to protecting businesses and local governments against cyber crime. Its latest efforts have been accomplished through a partnership with security consultant Kevin Mitnick (“The World’s Most Wanted Hacker”).
With Mitnick, KnowBe4 developed interactive and web-based training that includes case studies, live demonstration videos and short tests. KnowBe4 uses knowledge of the latest cyber crime tactics in real-time to train its clients’ employees, ranging from credit unions to hospitals and insurance corporations.
Information on cybersecurity can be found in Cyberheist, the latest book written by Sjouwerman.
For more information on how KnowBe4 can protect the consumers against holiday scams and tips on cyber criminals, visit the website.
Do you do your holiday shopping online? What measures do you take to stay safe?