Rise in online scams is affecting holiday shoppers — Here’s how to stay safe

I-Team

(WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team has uncovered a new warning for anyone doing any shopping online, especially for the holidays.

We’ve learned what con artists are doing like never before to rip you off.

Research by the cyber security firm Check Point found a 178% increase in fake shopping sites set up by hackers and scammers.

So, that next click could help you find exactly what you want shopping online or it could get you ripped off by crooks.

“Fake shopping is about you being, unfortunately, tricked,” said Brian Linder from Check Point. 

Linder said con artists set up computer links that look like they’re taking you to a site offering incredible deals on really popular stuff. However, it’s all a sham to steal from you.

“They’re going to steal your credit card information, or your personally identifiable data, your name, your address,” Linder said.

Meanwhile, we wondered how you explain the explosion of these sites. A big factor seems to be, simply, the bad guys know their work.

“The bad actors know that people fall for these things. They put in resources to create more of these fake websites. Everyone is in a rush, these days, to get things done,” Linder said.

So, how can you protect yourself? Don’t just click on what comes in your email.

At first glance, it might look like a link to a legitimate business or shopping site, but it might be off just enough to take you to the fake site. Instead, go online and go directly to the actual website yourself.

Deonna Taylor considers herself a pretty smart online shopper, but even she admits, last year, she almost got taken.

“They tried to, basically, steal some of my personal information. More upset with myself than the hackers because I know better,” Taylor said.

She is not surprised to hear about more online shopping scams than ever before.

Linder put it very simply when he said, “Don’t click on a link in an email. That is an invitation to disaster.’

Taylor gave some advice we’ve heard so many times before that may be more important than ever.

“The number one lesson that I learned is, if it looks too good to be true, nine times out of ten, it is too good to be true,” she said.

Put another way, the Better Business Bureau tells us online buying scams now make up more than a third of all scams reported.

Check Point says these fake and “malicious” websites can be hard to investigate, since they are often up only for a short time. Then, they get taken down only to be replaced by new ones.

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