–– As you order gifts online, don't get tripped up by fake email alerts.
As holiday shipping goes up in November and December, the frequency of phishing emails relating to orders or shipments goes up, too.
Wal-Mart warns that if you received an order confirmation email from Wal-Mart but never placed such an order, it may be a "phishing scam attempting to gather information, or in some cases, spread malware."
FedEx warns consumers about a "delivery failure" scam email.
Fraudulent emails claim to be from FedEx or the U.S. Postal Service "regarding a package that could not be delivered."
The consumer is then asked to open an attachment in order to obtain the invoice needed to pick up their package. The attachment in the email may contain a virus.
Don't just rush and assume there's trouble with something that you ordered.
"Be suspicious of incoming email from unknown or unsolicited sources, especially those that have attachments as well as hyperlinks," said Jeremy Stempien, a detective for the City of Novi, Mich., and a special federal deputy marshal for the Southeast Michigan Financial Crimes Task Force.
"The same should apply to incoming phone calls," he said.
–– Every deal you find online is not a bargain.
Con artists tempt consumers with great deals on hard-to-find items or hot gifts. Maybe you'll spot some extraordinary deal on an Apple iPhone X or find a crazy bargain price on an L.O.L. Surprise! Big Surprise toy.
Or you think you've found a great deal on jewelry. The Better Business Bureau and others warned in 2017, for example, about fake sites that offer up to 70 percent off on Pandora charms.
Charisse Ford, chief marketing officer for Pandora Americas, said shoppers should be aware that counterfeit sites have some clear indicators, including the "About Us" page that can be very generic without descriptions of the business, company mission or current Pandora images or promotions.
Another clue: Try calling and talking with someone in customer service first before placing an order to ask about return policies and the like. Shoppers are less likely to connect with a real person if going through a fraudulent site.
Companies such as Pandora note that they work hard to help identify and shut down counterfeit sites, including those on social media channels.
Con artists use phony websites to sell counterfeit goods -- or engage in cybercrime.
It's no bargain if, when you click on the link, you download malware.
"You think you are getting the discount of a lifetime or an exclusive offer, but this is a phishing attack," said Adam Levin, author of "Swiped: How to Protect Yourself in a World Full of Scammers, Phishers and Identity Thieves."
Remember, bargains abound throughout the holiday season, so there's no reason to think you absolutely must get all that shopping done right now.
About The Writer
Susan Tompor is the personal finance columnist for the Detroit Free Press. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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