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Experts warn shoppers to protect themselves this holiday season

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

BY Greg Mellen, Behind the Badge, November 24, 2021


This year, as Black Friday online, Cyber Monday, and holiday online sales ramp up, consumers are warming up their fingers for some serious transacting. And wherever buyers travel in the e-verse, criminals are either close behind or already waiting.


In 2020, as consumers turned to the internet in record numbers to do their holiday shopping, criminals were also there in record numbers. And “cyber criminals took advantage of an opportunity to profit from our dependence on technology to go on an Internet crime spree,” the FBI reported in its 2020 Internet Crime Report.


The 2020 Internet Crime Report found 791,790 complaints of suspected Internet crime, an increase of more than 300,000 complaints (about 69 percent) from 2019.


This year, the FBI is on pace to receive more than 1 million complaints, according to Unit Chief Donna Gregory of the FBI’s Cyber Division.


Although about 82 percent of the attempted crimes failed, losses from successful crimes exceeded $4.2 billion, and $1.8 billion (about 43 percent) was from unsuspecting older shoppers.


Whether from phishing (not to mention variants such as vishing, smishing, and pharming), spoofing, masking, sham sites or typo-squats, or extortion, the consumer world can be a digital minefield.


And that doesn’t factor in the countless phone trolls and robocall thieves out there, or porch pirates on the back end.


In conjunction with Ready OC and Safe OC, which are part of a national safety campaign that asks if you “see something, say something,” we talked to cyber crime experts about the current climate in cyber crimes and some solutions to protect holiday shoppers.


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