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Avoid These 3 Holiday Scams on Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday

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Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday are almost here – and consumers shopping for the winter break should be on the lookout for scams online.

Online sales in the United States are expected to reach $ 207 billion this holiday shopping season, between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, according to Adobe. This is a record and a 10% jump from 2020, a year in which the Covid pandemic pushed more consumers to buy online.

Cyber ​​Weekend – the period from Black Friday to Cyber ​​Monday – will attract around 17% of all sales this holiday season, according to Adobe estimates.

Seventy-five percent of U.S. adults expect their e-commerce through large retailers like Amazon or Walmart to be similar or increase from the 2020 holiday season, according to a recent AARP survey.

Criminals will likely try to profit from volume – and reckless consumers.

Online shopping accounted for around 58,000 reports of Covid-related consumer fraud from January 2020 to October 18 this year, more than any other category of fraud, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Consumers lost a total of $ 48 million.

“We are entering a sensitive holiday and taxation period, and we urge people to protect their personal information,” IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said in an alert on Friday, which warned of thieves potential identities using this data to file fraudulent tax returns.

Here are three common scams to watch out for this time of year.

Fake retailers

According to Social Catfish, an online safety site, fake retailers using fake websites can lure consumers with big-sale ads on popular giveaways that are out of stock or hard to find elsewhere.

The problem may be more prevalent than in previous years due to supply chain issues and higher prices for some products. Consumers are expected to pay 9% more during Cyber ​​Week, on average, in 2021 compared to 2020, according to Adobe.

“Out-of-stock notifications have remained high throughout 2021 and will remain a challenge throughout the season,” Adobe said in its annual holiday shopping forecast.

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There are some tell-tale signs of fraud: A fake site’s domain name will have an unnecessary letter or number, and the site may contain grammatical errors or limited contact information, according to Social Catfish.

Consumers should research unfamiliar companies and read customer reviews, or search for the company name online with the word “scam,” Social Catfish advised. Also, do not purchase a product by wire transfer, money order, or gift card.

Social media scams

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube are “becoming hotbeds of deception,” according to the Federal Trade Commission.

The platforms amplified harmful content during the pandemic, the federal agency said.

During the holidays, brands and influencers typically offer free giveaways on Instagram, according to Social Catfish. Scammers can advertise the chance to win a vacation prize, but include malicious links in Instagram posts and steal personal data from consumers.

Around 38% of consumers said they made a purchase in the past 12 months while clicking on a social media ad, which could lead them to the cloned site of a legitimate store or download malware to their device, according to AARP.

Consumers should be wary of social media accounts without a blue check mark (platforms use them to verify an actual page from copiers) and watch out for typos and accounts with little other content, according to Social Catfish.

Missing parcel scam

Consumers are not necessarily safe even after purchasing something – product delivery is also breeding ground for fraud.

Scammers can pretend to be from FedEx or another shipping company, sending a text or email with a link to track the package, according to Social Catfish. But clicking on the link allows criminals to steal the consumer’s personal and financial information. Scammers can also leave voicemail messages or place a “missed delivery” label on a consumer’s door with a number to call to verify their information.

According to the AARP, about a third of adults have received a fake notification from someone saying they’re from USPS, FedEx, or UPS about a shipping issue.

Never click a link or call back a number from an unexpected delivery notice, Social Catfish warned. Contact the company directly using a verified number or website.

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