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Feds warn of fraud schemes on "Cyber Monday" and beyond

Dec 1, 2014

Credit Sean MacEntee / creative commons

Federal law enforcement agencies are warning online shoppers to be on the lookout for potential scams this “Cyber Monday” and beyond.

The Monday after Thanksgiving has become the busiest online shopping day of the year for American consumers.

And the FBI says it’s noticed a significant uptick in fraud schemes that start then, and last through the holiday season.

“Online consumers should be extra vigilant in their Internet purchases and activity during the holiday season.  The FBI and the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) see significant increases around Cyber Monday, and thereafter, in online scams,” says Paul Abbate, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit office.

“Fraud schemes are often associated with products or gift cards being sold for dramatically reduced prices; ‘one day only’ websites, offering sales on high-demand items; and ‘phishing’ emails, text messages, or phone calls that purport to come from established and well-known retailers, seeking shoppers to verify credit card numbers, bank accounts, or detailed personal information.”

In particular, prices offered at way below retail value, and goods sold on websites not closely linked to a particular brand, should set off red flags.

If you do fall victim to online fraud, officials say you should report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Still, many experts believe hackers are actually much more likely to target brick-and-mortar retailers during the holiday season—such as last year’s massive data breach at Target.

This recent episode of Marketplace Weekend has more information on Cyber Monday security, and the changing world of retail fraud.