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Susan Tompor: Cyber scams tempt holiday shoppers

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

When we're rushing, we might not notice that the website in an email has an odd name.

Brands that continue to be spoofed include Amazon, Wal-Mart and Target. Other brands that are commonly targeted include PayPal, Yahoo and Apple.

Helming told me that consumers need to be wary of fake sites that play up the "Black Friday" frenzy. Dozens of malicious domain registrations that touted a Black Friday connection cropped up last year beginning around Nov. 20, and he expects the same this year, too.

–– Learn how to spot a fake.

Watch out for a domain decorated with a few extra, possibly even reassuring, words or odd spellings. DomainTools listed some brand-abusing domains that have a dot-com at the end but they're still frauds, such as Amazonsecure-shop, Target-officialsite or Walmartkt.

Other fakes include: or or


Helming said domains that include a hyphen and words such as shop or secure can be good clues to a phony site, as many brand names use their names alone for their sites.

Other words in a fake URL site that appears to be connected to a well-known name might be something like outlet, discounts or deals.

Many times, the fraudsters use words like "official site" to make their fake sites look legitimate. Or there might be extra letters, such as Yahooo or Walmaart.

Take care on social media. Phishers can use "URL shortening" services to obfuscate phishing URLs. As a result, a very short URL can be used in tweets, which automatically redirect the visitor to a longer "hidden" URL, according to the Anti-Phishing Working Group's research.


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