(KRQE) – As millions of people start to search for Black Friday bargains online, several scams are targeting their shopping dollars. More and more fraudulent websites, that look exactly like the real thing for big names like Apple, or Amazon, or Walmart are cropping up online and as apps.
Thieves want to trick people into stealing their personal information, scamming them out of money, or talk them into engaging in questionable behavior with their money. They are seeking easy targets for phishing, ransomware, credit card fraud, identity theft, and other schemes.
This holiday season, ConsumerReports.org recommends the following before you tap the purchase button:
Update everything. Make sure the operating systems on your computers and mobile devices all up-to-date. The same goes for all the apps on them that you use to shop.
Strengthen weak passwords. Create a strong password especially for shopping, email, and banking accounts. Long strings of random letters, numbers, and symbols are best. And never use the same password for more than one account.
Watch for phish. Careful what you click on. Fraudsters might be behind what looks like an emailed shipping notification or ad on social media, promoting a great discount on a hot holiday gift. Instead go directly to that shipping company or retailer’s website by directly typing in the address, starting with https://
Beware of naughty apps. According to RiskIQ, a cybersecurity company that keeps a database of blacklisted apps, about 2 percent of the holiday shopping-themed apps out there are malicious. They’re either carrying malware or looking to steal your payment or personal information. Stick with apps you know.
Be wary of free WiFi. Cybersecurity experts have long warned consumers to stay off public WiFi for fear that a hacker could intercept their internet traffic. There’s no reason to tempt fate. Wait till you get home to check your checking account balance. Or use the data connection on your phone. It’s significantly more secure than WiFi.
Cybersecurity experts say scammers want your personal information, like debit card numbers to access your bank account. They suggest using secure payment systems like Apple Pay, Venmo, or Paypal for purchases instead.