Providing investigative services tailored to the business community introduced me to small business owners. Many of them, as well as myself, with questions about the logistical and legal issues faced by businesses. This blog was started to address the questions. Although I’ve moved on from the investigative field there is still a desire to offer common sense solutions to small business owners. Sometimes we cover non business issues. Hope you enjoy reading. Please feel free to share.
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Sunday, November 27, 2016
Note: This post
was originally published on November 27, 2016 and has been updated with new
On top of all the safety concerns we have for shopping in
the real world, you have to be careful online as well.Not only from identity theft issues but
bogus, price too good to be true deals, on fake websites and fake mobile apps.
You use to be able to look at a website and have your spider
sense tingle warning that this doesn’t look quite right. But now, at first
glance, it’s hard to pick out a thrown together site. Site building skills and
packages are such that pretty much anyone can construct a site that looks like
a multi billion dollar corporation is at the other end. When in reality it’s a
small time operation or worse an out of country company that is selling bogus
products or collecting personal data.
One quick way to tell if the site is not quite on the up and
up is to take a tour and make note of the grammar. One thing the scammers
haven’t quite grasped is writing in grammatically correct English. Sites that do
not pay attention to simple grammatical structure probably don’t have your best
interest in mind. We’re not talking about a typo here or their or misusing
there, they’re, or their, you'll see serious grammar issues that scream no
quality control. But don’t use this as your only method.
There are several “detectors” that can be found online that
you enter the questionable website address and the detector gives you a report
on the site, including a score, location, technical data, owner, and contact
information. One such site is Scamadviser.com. [This is just one of many and no
endorsements are being given.] This site seemed to provide the most detailed
information that online users could use.
If you’re not sure of a site, run it through a “scam busting
site”, you should be able to get enough laymen details to make a determination
if the site in question is someone you want to provide your credit card.
In the early days of the Internet, criminals would identify
the most popular retailing websites and then figure out the commonly mistyped
spellings of the retailer’s names. They create their own sites under the
misspelled names. Users always misspelled Amazon, or example. Type in Amason, and you are directed to the
scammers’ site. Companies figured this out and began buying up the domain names
associated with the misspellings.
The technique is called typosquatting. The practice
diminished but is picking up popularity again. It’s hard to think of or even
buy every possible spelling combination, so criminals are able to slip past the
gatekeepers. The fraudulent sites are very close facsimiles to the real sites.
Once a user interacts, malware is downloaded onto the users computer and/or
information is stolen.
Mobile devices are targeted as well through fake retail apps
sold in smartphone stores. The apps mimic legitimate retailers, but they
install malware that steal identity, financial information, and sometimes install
ransomware (If you ever want to see your files again August 8, 2016) The RiskIQ cybersecurity company estimates that 1 in 10 Black
Friday apps were fraudulent. The biggest app stores fall victim to fake apps.
Retail apps may be safer downloaded from the retailers website.
Another oldie but goodie is fake shipping notices sent via
in email. They are always prevalent but become more so when criminals know that
there will be an increase in online shopping/shipping. The notices can look
real and appear as they are from a retailer from which you recently purchased.
With the flurry of shopping everyone does at this time of year, it’s easy for
fake notices to lost in all the emails received. Know what you purchased and
from whom, monitor the confirmations and shipping. Most companies will send out
a confirmation email, a product shipped email, and possibly a follow up.Be on guard for anything more.
It’s hard to say stick with nationally named brands and big
retailers. Lots of small businesses make their living through online sales and
often have good deals especially on unique items. Just as if you were shopping
in the real world, you wouldn’t buy from a questionable character off the
street, so do some research before you buy online. And watch out for too good to
be true deals, especially on hard to find items. Use common sense.Check reviews. Do your homework.
Be safe. Enjoy the thrill of the hunt.
See our blog archive for other posts relating to shopping safety: