Think before you click: Wyoming DPS has tips for safe online shopping

1297491217912_originalThe holiday gift season is all about sales, frenzied shopping and maddening crowds — and Cyber Monday sales are projected to hit nearly $3.36 billion this year.

‘Tis the season, all right, and that season unfortunately includes online scams.

It’s a busy time of the year for the City of Wyoming Department of Public Safety (DPS) — they’re working hard to deter shoplifters and prevent retail fraud. The DPS wants you to be safe out there in cyberspace, too.

“These tips on cyber/online shopping safety are based on past scams and overall best practices,” said Lt. Timothy Pols, Wyoming DPS. “They are not necessarily related to specific cases that have been reported to the Wyoming DPS.”

Black Friday Deals
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the busiest online shopping days and the bad guys are out to get rich with your money. Don’t buy anything that seems too good to be true. Don’t trust a site or name you don’t know.

Complimentary Apple Watch
Watch out for the too-good-to-be-true coupons that offer complimentary watches, phones or tablets on sites all over the Internet. Don’t fall for it. Make sure the offers are from a legitimate company.

Postal Deliveries
Watch out for alerts via email or text that you just received a package from FedEx, UPS or the US Mail, and then asks you for some personal information. Don’t enter anything. The scammers are out to steal personal information. Think Before You Click.

Fake Refunds
There is a fake refund scam going on that could come from Amazon, a hotel or a retail chain. It claims there was a “wrong transaction” and wants you to “click for refund” but instead, your device will be infected with malware.

The Grinch E-Card Greetings
Happy Holidays! Your email has an attachment that looks like an e-greeting card, pretty pictures and all. You think that this must be from a friend. Nope. Malicious e-cards are sent by the millions, and especially at the office; never open these things as they might infect your workstation.

The Fake Gift Card Trick
Internet crooks promote a fake gift card through social media but what they really are after is your information, which they then sell to other cyber criminals who use it for identity theft. As an example: A Facebook scam offering a complimentary $1,000 Best Buy gift card to the first 20,000 people who sign up for a Best Buy fan page, which is a malicious copy of the original.

The Charity Tricksters
The holidays are traditionally the time for giving. It’s also the time that cyber criminals try to pry money out of people who mean well. Make donations to the wrong site and you could be funding cybercrime or even terrorism. So, watch out for any communications from charities that ask for your contribution, (phone, email, text and tweets) and make sure they are legit. It’s a good idea to contact the charity to make sure the request did in fact come from them. It is safest to only donate to charities you already know and refuse all the rest.m-cyberscam-photo-1

The DM-Scam 
You tweet about a holiday gift you are trying to find, and you get a direct message (DM) from another twitter user offering to sell you one. Stop – Look – Think, because this could very well be a sophisticated scam. If you do not know that person, be very careful before you continue and never pay up front.

The Extra Holiday Money Fraud 
People always need some extra money during this season, so cyber fraudsters are offering work-from-home scams. The most innocent of these have you fill out a form where you furnish confidential information like your Social Security number which will get your identity stolen. The worst of them offer you work where you launder money from a cyberheist which can get you into major trouble.

The Evil Wi-Fi Twin
Many people bring their laptop/tablet/smartphone to the mall to scout for gifts and check for cheaper prices online. But the bad guys are there too, shopping for your credit card number. They put out a Wi-Fi signal that looks just like a complimentary one you always use. Choose the wrong Wi-Fi and the hacker now sits in the middle and steals your credit card data while you buy online. When you use a Wi-Fi connection in a public place, it is better not to use your credit card.