Online sales are a huge rage these days! E-commerce firms are competing with each other to offer consumers the best deals possible. Sales carry attractive taglines like: Up to 70% off, Midnight Flash Sale or Festive Discount. What could be more convenient than shopping comfortably from just about anywhere at any time?
Unfortunately, cyber criminals are also loving online shopping as it gives them an opportunity to harvest personal and bank/card details from unsuspecting consumers.
You might have come across one or all of these ads listed below, either on Facebook or WhatsApp or Pop-ups on different websites:
- Super- Dhamaka offer!
- Get free 4G internet for today only!
- Share this sale link with 10 friends and stand to win an iPhone 7s
Sounds familiar? Perhaps you have clicked on the links and checked out the offers, and not just you, many other judicious net users too are lured by such tempting offers and proceed with purchasing.
The popularity of social media has made it a very useful scamming platform for cybercriminals, as messages are shared quickly and widely, especially since people tend to believe in messages sent by friends and then fall victim to phishing scams. Like this one below which was making the rounds last year:
Breaking News, Now Buy 16 GB Pendrive at Just 19 Rs. Buy It Now Before Sale Ends. Cash on Delivery Also Available. Visit now http://XYZ.com
Fraudsters usually like to piggy back and leverage genuine ongoing sales to scam users. So, the moment reputed e-tailers like Amazon, Snapdeal, Flipkart start their mega online sales, there is likely to be a plethora of hoax websites and links shared via social media to direct users to these false sites. And scammers have become quite proficient at creating sophisticated and genuine looking websites that can trick a regular buyer too.
Does that mean you avoid buying anything online? NO WAY! I love it and I am sure you do too.
Things to do before you start filling up your online shopping cart:
- Check the security of your internet connection: First thing to do as an unsecured connection like public Wi-Fi can make it easy for hackers to steal your details
- Check device security: Ensure you are using comprehensive security software to keep your device secured.
- Check domain name: Before you click on the link, check the URL. For example, Amazon.com is quite different from amazon-flashsale.com
- Check offers: Too good to be true? – It probably is. Cross check prices with other sites and with product review columns. Do you really believe an iPhone 7s can be priced at only Rs. 15,000?
- Check refund and return policies: Read the T&Cs and the return policies and check the star rating of the seller. Proceed only after you are satisfied.
Cyber safety tips for, you, the smart online buyer:
- Ignore emails from unknown sources: do not try to unsubscribe from these unsolicited emails. You could be just letting the scammers know that your email address is active. Mark as spam and move on.
- Be suspicious: It’s good to doubt claims that seem too good to be true, and messages that contain too many words in capital, e-mojis and grammatical errors.
- Be aware: Keep track of ongoing sales, hoax messages doing the rounds, and new phishing scams.
Knowledge is power and if you approach the shopping festivals armed with secured devices and updated info on scams, you will smartly avoid the honey traps set up by cybercriminals. Have a safe and secure online shopping experience!