Cyber Monday Scams To Be Aware Of

November 28, 2016  |  

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It’s Cyber Monday and many people will be doing their shopping online today (if they didn’t already spend all of their money over the weekend). With an influx of shoppers comes a flood people trying to scam them, and with today’s hyper-technical society it should come as no surprise that “One of the most effective new methods that scammers are using is fake apps,” finance expert Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments and the current Chair of the Board of Directors of DreamWorks Animation, wrote in her Black America Web column.

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“As the popularity of shopping on our mobile devices has skyrocketed, many retailers have responded by launching apps to make it easier. However, scammers are also building apps, designed to trick us into believing they are a company’s official app or tempt us to use them with promises of discounts,” Hobson explained. “If you download a fake app, it may contain malware, require you to enter personal or financial information, or require you to enter a password, and most people use the same password for their accounts. Once the scammers get their hands on this information, there are many ways they can take advantage of you.”

You should also be on the lookout for fake receipts and shipping emails. You’ve probably seen them. The emails say there’s a shipment waiting for you but more information is needed to make the delivery. This is a scam to try to get your credit information and use it fraudulently.

If you’re worried about your susceptibility to scammers, follow these tips from Hobson. “First, before downloading any app, go to the retailer’s official website and see if they promote the app. If they do have an app, they will direct you to the correct source. Second, read the reviews. If the app seems questionable, there is a good chance someone who downloaded it before you might have commented about it. Also, if there are no reviews, do not download it,” She wrote. If the app you’re considering or the email you received has spelling errors that’s also a major flag something’s not legit.

“Finally, be aware of how much information [the app] asks for,” Hobson cautioned. “Some apps go even further than stealing your credit card information, asking for permissions to access to your photos, contacts, location, or social media profiles as well. Simple shopping apps should have no need for this information. If an app does this, delete the app immediately.”

Besides being wary of fake apps, be on the lookout for fake charities trying to get money from you. “To avoid getting scammed by fake charities, never donate to charities you have not heard of, and never click on links in emails from charities. It is always best to go to a charity’s website to donate,” said Hobson.

If you do get scammed, contact your bank immediately.  “If you have been a victim of financial or identity fraud, you should also file a police report, as your bank and other parties might want a copy of the report at some point. Third, file a fraud alert with the three major credit bureaus. Doing this will require them to add a note to your credit file that states to anyone trying to pull your credit that you have been a victim of fraud, and requests that businesses pulling the credit report call you on one of two phone numbers you provided when you filed the fraud alert,” advised Hobson.

Also, ask the three major credit bureaus to put a “security freeze” on your credit reports. Most of all, be careful who you share your information with online.

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