Durga Puja is a major Hindu festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil. It is also a time when many people shop for new clothes, gifts, and food. With the increase in online shopping, there is a directly proportional increase in cyber frauds and scams in form of offers/discounts/gifts. In today’s world every individual is busy, which is why Online shopping is in trend than the age old in-store shopping which also provides the best offers and discounts. Unfortunately, the holiday season is frequently a haven for cybercriminals, who easily take advantage of the greed to launch a variety of scams.
When internet criminals continue to get more clever and smart in their methods of victimizing consumers, it can be challenging to stay safe online. Fortunately, one can avoid online buying fraud by following the tips below penned by Mr Hrithik Lall, Chief Technical Officer, IEMLabs.
- Customer Service Fake Calls
These scams usually involve someone posing as a customer service representative from a popular online shopping app or bank. They will then ask for your personal information, such as your name, address, and bank account number. Once they have this information, they can use it to fraudulently access your accounts or make unauthorized charges on your credit card.
Such an incident was reported to the Cyber Crime Department, where a user lost 150000 INR from his account after paying just 10 INR as misguided by the Criminals on the opposite side of the phone.
Tip: Do not share any type of details to anyone via any means.
- Gift cards with discounts
Consumers anticipate buying gift cards this holiday season in 73% of cases. This indicates that many consumers are searching for gift cards for their friends and family. However, scammers have discovered that shoppers like to purchase discounted gift cards at this time of year. This interest of buyers helps them to use fake promotional offers to trick them into parting with their money.
A gift card offer can often be identified as fake by looking for a request for banking information. Banks and retailers will not ask for this information.
Emails with suspicious links consumers often receive special offers and deals via email during the holiday season. Retailers are likely to send you real emails this season, much like their gift card offers. However, there will still be some sketchy emails you should look out for in your inbox to avoid being scammed.
These kinds of coupons can be identified as valid only if they are received in the same app just like Amazon, and Flipkart – the trusted ones.
Tip: Avoid clicking on links from unrecognized sites. Users are now being redirected to pages asking for personal information for identity theft using malicious links in fake shopping emails. Ransomware can be installed on your device using these pages as well. Also, do not
respond to an offer if it requires too much information. Generally, if an offer does not ask for banking information, it is safe, but you should still contact the retailer to ensure it is legitimate.
- Fictitious coupon websites
A frequent consumer will probably look for discount codes before purchasing from an online retailer. Coupon codes are a great way to save some money online, but if you look for discounts from the wrong places, getting them could get you into trouble.
It appears harmless enough that many websites will offer you free discounts after you complete a “short survey,” but the survey landing pages are frequently made to steal your data or infect your device with malware.
Tip: You can find out if a website is verified by doing an internet search for the company’s name and checking their Facebook page. If there isn’t one with check marks next to it, then chances are it isn’t authorized and may be suspect! The color of these icons will either be blue or gray depending on how well-verified they are; both colors mean that this site meets the criteria but just has different levels respectively. You should also check the link’s URL format. The discount is probably invalid if it redirects you to another website or even a survey page on the same domain, so make sure that what you’re seeing in this case!
Use a unique username and password for each account you create with an online merchant to make it more difficult for hackers to access your information. Additionally, it’s a good idea to use a different email account for online shopping so you can keep your social media and shopping accounts as far away from your banking and other financial logins as possible.
Using a prepaid card for your online purchases this season rather than your debit or credit cards is another clever approach to keep your personal financial information secure. This will assist you in preventing unauthorized access to such numbers.
- A malicious website redirects
Malicious URLs that install rerouting malware on your device are another way scammers are aiming to snare unwary buyers. These typically appear when you click on malicious links that were provided to you via email or text, or when you mistakenly write the incorrect URL when attempting to access a certain website. Once you’ve visited one of these pages, spyware that redirects you to bogus websites when you try to access legitimate websites, such as your online banking site or a particular merchant, will be installed.
Tip: Running Malware Protection software on your computer frequently is the greatest approach to defend yourself from this kind of hack. Fake websites frequently feature weird copy or technical issues that are uncommon on authentic websites for financial institutions or major businesses. They are also typically far poorer quality than authentic websites.
- Avoid Shopping on Free Wi-Fi
On public Wi-Fi, you never know who might be keeping an eye on your behavior. Wi-Fi’s used in cafes, airports, and other public places can have very few security safeguards. Because of this, it is quite simple for hackers to install specialized software and gather all the data from these networks. Given that, it would be foolish to engage in any activity that requires you to disclose financial information on these networks.