Five scams to watch out for this winter as online fraud triples since 2020 – Digital Journal


Microsoft warns of a new hack – Copyright AFP/File Lionel BONAVENTURE

Experts in VPNSummary I said Digital magazine top five scams to watch out for during the holiday period as demand for the best deals skyrockets.

With Black Friday approaching, avid shoppers are eager to get their hands on the best deals with searches for “best Black Friday deals” up 400 percent in the past month.

Cybersecurity expert Christopher Bulvshtein of VPNSummary has outlined the most concerning scams to be aware of while bargain hunting and how to best protect yourself.

phishing attacks

“Phishing is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it still works. The Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) estimates that attacks tripled between 2020 and 2021. There have already been one million attacks in the first half of 2022,” explains Bulvshtein.

In terms of examples, Bulvshtein cites: “Cybercriminals have become adept at perfectly timing and tailoring phishing emails or text messages for specific events throughout the year, including Black Friday. Expect to see emails from Amazon asking you to update your payment information, for example. You may also receive emails that look like a genuine delivery notification with pending delivery charges. It’s rare that these are real.”

There are steps to take, says Bulvshtein: “To protect yourself, don’t click on any links within emails. In 2022, it doesn’t matter whose they are; not worth the risk. Please go directly to the company’s website if you suspect there may be an issue with your account that requires attention.”

Verification code hijacking

Explaining the scam, Bulvshtein describes: “A common scam is for a malicious person to impersonate your bank or another company with which you have an account. They will tell you that there is a problem with your account. Then they will say that they are sending you a text message, with a code to prove your identity.

Expanding on this, Bulvshtein clarifies: “By impersonating an official company, they turn the tables on you. They put you in the spot and you are expected to show who you are. Actually, they are the criminals and they already have your password. That code you’re handing out will allow them to process a payment or log into your account with two-factor authentication. Unfortunately, many companies will no longer reimburse customers who voluntarily provided a security access code.”

For safeguards, Bulvshtein advises: “Be sure to use a password manager to create strong, secure, and unique passwords. Set up two-factor authentication on your essential, high-risk accounts like banking, credit, and shopping websites. Also, never interact with suspicious people. If in doubt, hang up and, more importantly, listen for the dial tone, before calling the company back from the number on their official website (or on the back of your card).”

Malicious browser extensions

Here Bulvshtein explains: “Many extensions are considered browser hijackers. At best, they could change your browser settings and fill your inbox with spam or phishing emails. At worst, they could install malware on your device that compromises your accounts and overall online security.”

And for protection: “We do not recommend installing browser extensions that offer discounts on purchases, unless you are sure that they are safe and well-tested tools.”

Little known websites

Bulvshtein warns: “Be careful which websites you use to search for Black Friday deals. We’ll all be familiar with Amazon and other big brands, but if you come across lesser-known websites, do some research on them first. Visit websites like TrustPilot and look for social proof. If there is very little information, or bad reviews, about the company, it is better to look elsewhere..”

Is it definitely a discount?

Beware of the offer that seems too good to be true. Bulvshtein warns: “Certain websites

They may increase their prices at the last moment, before applying a percentage discount during sales. The resulting price makes it sound like you’re getting a good deal. In reality, the product could be just as expensive as it was before the sale began, except now it has an attractive discount tag. We have seen products cost more during Black Friday than they would normally cost before sales began.”


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