With the holiday season fast approaching, cybersecurity experts are urging bargain hunters to be wary of scams when shopping online.
Australians have reported losing more than $14.8 million through online shopping scams this year, according to ScamWatch.
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday approaching, internet experts are concerned that these losses could become much higher.
Mark Anderson, National Security Officer at Microsoft ANZ explained, “Cybercriminals and fraudsters are always modifying their technologies to take advantage of current events.
“They also adapt their scams to holiday periods and associated sales such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.”
While new laws introduced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority have prevented more than 48 million text scams since July, the security expert warned that the festive season could generate new scams.
“Scammers know we’re all looking for those really good deals – particularly when times are tough economically for a lot of Australians – and they’ll use that knowledge to try to scam us out of our money or data,” Anderson said. .
The ACMA found that the most common scam in the past three months was the Amazon impersonation scam, in which criminals pretended to be Amazon employees to collect sensitive data from victims.
Anderson warned that the scam can become very successful during the festive shopping season.
Other successful online shopping scams involve scammers posing as legitimate retailers through fake advertisements or fake websites.
Microsoft’s national security officer shared his tips on how shoppers can protect themselves online while making a 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. Links can be used to direct shoppers to fake websites that appear to be legitimate.
“They will use these fake websites to steal your money or your passwords,” he said.
Instead of clicking a link, go directly to the sender’s official website to search for relevant information.
Set up a multifactor selection
When possible, the security expert encourages the creation of a binary or multi-factor identification system that will protect your personal information.
“It simply means that you not only have to know your username and password, but you can also receive a code in an SMS or log into an app to prove that it’s really you,” he said.
Microsoft has found that this stops 98% of password-based attacks in their tracks.
Do not use the same password
Using the same passwords for all of your accounts makes it easy for scammers to access all of your information in one place.
Instead, Mr. Anderson suggests purchasing a password manager, which allows you to securely store usernames and passwords across your various accounts.
Don’t keep your technology up to date
Updating your phone, laptop, and tablet will allow for the latest security fixes to make it harder for fraudsters to steal your sensitive information.
“The faster you can update your device, the faster you’ll be protected,” said Mr. Anderson.
Don’t ignore the red flags
The security expert urges shoppers to be aware of potential security breaches.
“Whenever you get a text or email, read it carefully to make sure it’s legitimate — if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” he said.
Anderson said the same rule applies to tempting online deals, which may 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 sites.
Scamwatch recommends checking website reviews before purchasing anything online.
Do not use secure payment methods
Scarwatch warns shoppers to always use secure payment methods like credit cards or PayPal when making online purchases.
Scammers often ask victims to pay with a preloaded money card, money order, or bank draft to avoid detection and make it difficult for the victim to recover their stolen money.
Originally published as Experts warn of online pre-Christmas shopping scams