Keep away from these three vacation scams on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

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Krisanapong Detraphiphat | Moment | Getty Images

Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday are just around the corner – and consumers shopping for the winter vacation should be on the lookout for online scams.

US online sales are projected to hit $ 207 billion this holiday season between November 1 and December 31, according to Adobe. That’s a record and a 10% jump from 2020, a year in which the Covid pandemic caused more consumers to shop digitally.

The cyber weekend – the period from Black Friday to Cyber ​​Monday – will account for around 17% of all sales during this holiday season, according to Adobe estimates.

According to a recent AARP survey, 75 percent of American adults expect their e-commerce via large retailers like Amazon or Walmart to be similar to or increase in comparison to the Christmas season 2020.

Criminals will likely try to take advantage of the volume – and careless consumers will.

Online shopping accounted for around 58,000 Covid-related consumer fraud reports from January 2020 to October 18 of this year, more than any other fraud category, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Consumers lost a total of $ 48 million.

“We are entering a sensitive vacation and tax period, and we urge people to protect their personal information,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig on Friday in a warning warning of potential identity thieves using this information to filing fraudulent tax returns.

Here are three common scams to watch out for this time of year.

Fake dealer

According to Social Catfish, an online safety website, counterfeit retailers using counterfeit websites can attract consumers with ads for large sales of popular gifts that are out of stock or difficult to find elsewhere.

The problem may be more present than in recent years due to supply chain issues and higher prices for some goods. According to Adobe, consumers are expected to pay an average of 9% more during Cyber ​​Week 2021 than in 2020.

“Out of stock notifications have remained high throughout 2021 and will remain a challenge throughout the season,” Adobe said in its annual Christmas shopping forecast.

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There are some tell-tale signs of fraud: a fake website’s domain name contains an irrelevant letter or number, and the website may have grammatical errors or limited contact information, according to Social Catfish.

Consumers should search for unfamiliar companies and read customer reviews or search online for the company name along with the word “scam,” advised Social Catfish. Also, do not purchase a product using a wire transfer, money order, or gift card.

Social Media Fraud

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube are becoming “hotbeds of deception” according to the Federal Trade Commission.

The platforms have increased harmful content during the pandemic, the federal authority announced.

Around the holidays, brands and influencers typically offer free product giveaways on Instagram, according to Social Catfish. Scammers may advertise a chance to win a Christmas prize, but they include malicious links on Instagram posts and steal consumers’ personal information.

About 38% of consumers said they made a purchase in the past 12 months by clicking a social media ad – which AARP said would lead them to a cloned website of a legitimate business or download malicious software onto their device could.

According to Social Catfish, consumers should be careful with social media accounts without a blue check mark (platforms use these to check a real page from imitators) and watch out for typos and accounts with little different content.

Missing packages scam

Consumers are not necessarily safe even after a purchase – product delivery is also fertile ground for fraud.

According to Social Catfish, scammers can pretend to be from FedEx or another shipping company by sending a text message or email with a link to track the package. However, by clicking the link, criminals can steal the consumer’s personal and financial information. Fraudsters can also leave voicemails or post a “Missed Delivery” label on a consumer’s door with a number they can call to verify their information.

About a third of adults have received a fake notification from someone claiming to be from USPS, FedEx, or UPS about a shipping problem, according to AARP.

Never click a link or call back a number from an unexpected delivery notice, warned Social Catfish. Contact the company directly using a verified number or website.