It’s Cyber Monday and Scammers Take Advantage of Online Shopping Frenzy

Early figures on the biggest shopping weekend of the year are showing higher traffic and sales at stores and websites in 2010, signaling what could be a turnaround from the abysmal shopping season retailers saw last year. Riding on the successful weekend and the ever growing online shopping experience, Cyber Monday is vying for it’s share in the limelight.

The term made its debut on November 28, 2005 in a Shop.org press release entitled “‘Cyber Monday’ Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year”.   It launched a trend for online retailers who said that their sales increased substantially on the Monday after Thanksgiving. As the trend has grown it is driving retailers to offer substantial online discounts and promotions on Cyber Monday.

But consumers are warned to be alert during the frenzied online shopping bonanza. Every year the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (part of the Department of Homeland Security) receives reports of an increased number of phishing scams and malware campaigns that seek to take advantage of the Christmas holiday shopping season.

US-CERT is reminding the public to remain cautious when receiving unsolicited email offers and   messages that could be part of a potential holiday shopping scams or malware campaigns.

These phishing scams and malware campaigns may include but are not limited to the following:

  • electronic greeting cards that may contain malware
  • requests for charitable contributions that may be phishing scams and may originate from illegitimate sources claiming to be charities
  • screensavers or other forms of media that may contain malware
  • credit card applications that may be phishing scams or identity theft attempts
  • online shopping advertisements that may be phishing scams or identity theft attempts from bogus retailers

Use caution when dealing with these types of email messages and take the following preventative measures to protect your system from phishing scams and malware campaigns:

  • Do not follow unsolicited web links in email messages.
  • Use caution when opening email attachments.
  • Maintain up-to-date antivirus software.
  • Review the Federal Trade Commission’s Charity Checklist to verify donation requests
  • Verify charity authenticity through a trusted contact number. Trusted contact information can be found on the Better Business Bureau National Charity Report Index.

So enjoy the shopping deals and gift giving this season, but beware of the miscreants who seek to take advantage of the holidays.