Experts warn of online shopping scams ahead of Christmas


With the holiday season fast approaching, cybersecurity experts are urging bargain hunters to beware of scams when shopping online.

According to Scamwatch, Australians said they lost more than $14.8 million to online shopping scams this year.

With Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday around the corner, cyber experts fear these losses will get much higher.

Man wearing hoodie with phone in hands.  Crime and hacking concept
Camera iconSecurity experts warn that the upcoming sales will be an opportunity for scammers. Credit: istock

“Cybercriminals and scammers are always adjusting their techniques to take advantage of the news,” said Microsoft ANZ National Security Manager Mark Anderson.

“They also align their scams with holiday periods and associated sales like Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday.”

As new laws introduced by the Australian Communication and Media Authority have blocked more than 48 million text message scams since July, the security expert has warned that the festive season could spawn new scams.

“The scammers know that we’re all after these really good deals – especially when, for many Australians, times are economically tough – and they will use that knowledge to try to cheat us with our money or our data,” Mr. Anderson. .

The ACMA found that the most popular scam over the past three months was the Amazon impersonation scam, in which criminals impersonate Amazon employees to collect sensitive data with the victims.

Mr Anderson warned that the scam could be a big hit during the festive season.

Other successful online shopping scams involve scammers posing as legitimate retailers through fake advertisements or fake websites.

Microsoft’s national security chief has shared his advice on how shoppers can protect themselves online while still getting a good deal.

Do not click on links in emails

Never click on a link you weren’t expecting in an email or text message, warns Anderson. The links can be used to direct buyers to fake websites that appear legitimate.

“They will use these fake sites to steal your money or your passwords,” he said.

Mark Anderson, National Security Manager at Microsoft ANZ, listed his tips for avoiding scams.  LinkedIn
Camera iconMark Anderson, National Security Manager at Microsoft ANZ, listed his tips for avoiding scams. LinkedIn Credit: News Corp Australia

Instead of clicking on a link, go directly to the sender’s official website to search for relevant information.

Set up multi-factor identification

Where possible, the security expert encourages the implementation of a two- or multi-factor identification system that will protect your personal information.

“It just means you not only have to know your username and password, but also receive a code in a text or log into an app to prove it’s you,” he said. declared.

“Microsoft found that this stops 98% of password attacks in their tracks.”

Don’t use the same password

Using the same passwords for all your accounts makes it much easier for scammers to access all your information in one place.

Close up of shocked young woman looking at mobile phone screen.
Camera iconUsing different passwords for different accounts will keep your information secure, Anderson said. Credit: istock

Instead, Anderson suggests buying a password manager, which lets you securely store usernames and passwords for your various accounts.

Keep your technology up to date

Updating your phone, laptop and tablet will enable the latest security patches to prevent crooks from stealing your sensitive information.

“The sooner you can update your device, the sooner you’ll be protected,” Anderson said.

Don’t ignore the red flags

The security expert urges buyers to be aware of potential security vulnerabilities.

“Whenever you receive a text or email, read it carefully to make sure it’s legit – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” he said. .

Mr Anderson said the same rule applies to tempting bargains online, which could cost you more in the long run. He suggests researching the seller before making any purchases, especially if the product is much cheaper than on other websites.

Scamwatch recommends checking a website’s reviews before buying anything online.

Use secure payment methods

Scamwatch warns buyers to always use secure payment methods like credit cards or PayPal when shopping online.

Scammers often ask victims to pay with a preloaded card, money order, or wire transfer to avoid detection and make it harder for the victim to recover their stolen money.

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