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Constella’s 2020 Holiday Security Tips

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Blog by Amirah Saad, Sr. Manager, Intelligence at Constella Intelligence

U.S. based consumers spent approximately $12 million per minute on Cyber Monday deals this year, leading to a record $9.4 billion in sales. $3 billion was spent solely via mobile purchases – clear indication consumers are relying more and more on the convenience of their smartphones for their shopping needs. However, as online shopping peaks during this holiday season, this trend definitely opens the floodgates to individuals being targeted by cybercriminals via fraudulent websites, social media platforms, and “free trial offers.”

Although we all eat, breathe and sleep security, here are some reminder tips on trending scams to be aware of during the current holiday craze, and ways to stay cyber-safe in 2020:

1. Research BEFORE you order! Beware of new online vendors, especially if you have never heard of the company before. Consumers are advised to read reviews before making purchases. If their website appears sparse or there is limited or suspicious contact information, chances are the website is a sham. Refer to the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker to see if others have shared any negative experiences with the vendor in question. At the very least, ensure the website begins with “https://” or has the padlock symbol which indicates the site is encrypted and personal data entered is likely to be secure.

2. Avoid “Free Trial” Offers. An uptick in “new skincare products” or “dietary supplement” scams have misled buyers into signing up for such offers with the sole obligation of just paying for shipping fees. The reality is that victims are inadvertently agreeing to monthly shipments of their order, purchased at full price! Always read the FINE print and take heed of cancellation policies which end up being even more costly than the bogus product themselves.

3. Beware of Fake Merchandise. Online shoppers have fallen victim to various scams by unwittingly buying counterfeit products from phony social media storefronts. Imposters will shamelessly market designer or brand-name goods via an impersonated website, offering unbelievable discounts. Once consumers receive the knock-off product and are unable to exchange or get a refund at a physical location, the unfortunate reality of the scam becomes crystal clear. Remember, if a deal sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Use your best judgment.

In short, tis’ the season fraudsters are keen on targeting shoppers – take caution and swipe safely!

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