SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (NewsNation Now) — Cyber experts are warning buyers to be aware of more online scams this holiday shopping season. Experts say there will be longer sales and that just gives attackers a longer time to target consumers.
The long lines and in-person shopping frenzies for the holiday season are now no more since the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus has store owners like Brina Thomas in Springfield, Missouri turning online to keep her doors open.
“This is my job. This is my full-time job. So this is my livelihood and my family’s source of income,” Five Pound Apparel owner Brina Thomas said.
Thomas said the pandemic caused her store sales to take a major dip and she’s depending on fourth-quarter holiday shopping to meet her bottom line.
It’s the same pressure at Modern Society Apparel.
“Yes, the fourth-quarter is important, but speaking to this year in general, every quarter has been super crucial,” Andrea Pena, Modern Society Apparel owner said.
Research from Harvard University’s Opportunity Insights Economic Tracker reveals “as of Nov. 8, 2020, total spending by all consumers decreased by 4.5% across the nation compared to January 2020.”
But as more businesses turn online for sales, tech expert Randy Watkins says so does hackers. Watkins is the Chief Technology Officer at Critical Start.
He advises customers to beware of websites spoofing a retailer’s site and using a fake domain.
“For example, if you think you’re going to Walmart.com, an attacker might replace the I in Walmart with an upper case I. It will look the same. But it will go to a spoofed website where an attacker will try to solicit your user name and password or your credit card information,” Watkins said.
Watkins said to be mindful of QR codes and don’t look at links that pop up on social media, in emails, or in text messages. Instead, go directly to the website of the retailer that you want to shop with this holiday season.
“If a consumer is out looking for the best deals. My go-to is if it smells fishy don’t trust it. Trust your gut. If you see a $4,000 TV that’s marked down to $500 it’s probably a scam,” said Watkins.