Is it a deal or a steal targeting your hard-earned money? We're tracking a growing problem as scammers lure in holiday shoppers with discount promises on luxury brands that turn out to be a trap.
Tony Sabaj of Check Pointcyber security is tracking a troubling trend. "What we see is a lot of bad actors and hackers trying to spoof legitimate brands," says Sabaj. He warns consumers that scammers will often take advantage of the name recognition of big brands like Louis Vuitton, Rolex, and Ray Ban.
"Everybody's heard of those brands and are more apt to click on it," Sabaj says. The trap typically starts with an email to lure you in. The message will advertise deals that are too good to be true as an incentive to get you to click on malicious links. In these situations, remember to trust your gut.
"Nobody sells Louis Vuitton at 90% off."
Scammers will create copycat websites hoping to trick you into inputting payment and other personal information.
So how can you spot these phony emails? First, look carefully at where the email came from. "One thing that people fall for is they look at what's called the display name of an email," Sabaj says. "I can change my display name to say anything." Instead, make sure to check the sender's email address.
Next, verify the website domain. Even if it appears legitimate, it could be spoofed. "It's gonna look like a real shopping site and it's gonna have looked like a real checkout," says Sabaj.
He warns that phishers will often get as close to the real website's name as possible. That's why it's critical to watch for tiny mistakes like misspellings and poor quality images.
You can check the links by entering them into Phishtank.com. Sabaj says it's also a good idea to search for the retailer's actual website to see if they are really offering any kind of discount or deal.
While this might seem like a lot of effort, Sabaj tells us scammers send a lot of these emails because the payoff adds up. "If i send out a million emails that are spoofing, all it takes is a few people to click on it," says Sabaj.
He encourages everyone to do their research and think twice before clicking on any unexpected links.