Scammers Target Consumers on Record Day of Online Shopping

Featured on Fox News 13 Tampa | December 1, 2020

This holiday season is set to shatter online shopping records, as the pandemic pushes consumers online and shoppers are scoring deals from the safety of their homes.

The traditional Thanksgiving weekend shopping spree turned into a long lineup of digital deals this year.

“So it’s no longer just Black Friday to Cyber Monday, it’s two weeks before Thanksgiving and three weeks after Thanksgiving,” said Randy Watkins, chief technology officer for CRITICALSTART.

He says the convenience of shopping from the sofa also comes with serious threats. Usually, the hackers get into your accounts through your email.

The scammer’s goal is to get you to open an attachment that could install malicious software, or persuade you to enter private data like credit card information, usernames and passwords so they can steal your hard-earned money.

“An attacker does not care about your Walmart account, your Target account, your Amazon account, what they care about is that you probably use that same username and password for your Chase account, your Wells Fargo account, your Bank of America account,” Watkins said.

With all the deceptive ads and phishing attacks, it is tough to know what to trust. Experts say to be on the lookout for fake websites and emails that look like the real thing. Instead of clicking links, navigate to the website on your own and only shop with reputable retailers.

“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. You’re not gonna get the $5,000 TV for $400,” said Watkins.

In the Tampa Bay area, scammers trick people out of millions of dollars every year, which is why you need to be vigilant and skeptical when loading up your shopping cart online.

“The tricky thing about this is it’s really hard to catch the people who perpetrate these,” explained Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren. “It’s hard to identify them, it’s hard when they don’t live in this country, and it’s really hard to prosecute them.  That’s why the best response to this is trying to protect yourself before the fraud ever occurs so that the scammers never end up taking your money.”

Tips to Guard Against Attackers:

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