Scammers Take Advantage of Holiday Shopping Season

A report from BrandProject documents the rise of new email phishing and fake mobile apps hoping to capitalize on the holiday shopping rush.

holiday shopping

As the holiday shopping season gets into full swing, consumers are moving their shopping online. Fully 56 percent of shoppers say they’ll be doing their holiday shopping online this year. Unfortunately, this environment is ripe for scammers and con artists, as they leverage every tool in their arsenal to separate users from their money, according to cyber-threat intelligence firm BrandProtect.

There were numerous methods of attack during the last month, including the ever-popular phishing. “From November 1 – December 1 2014, BrandProtect detected 27,000 phishing emails that affected millions of consumers. More than 5,000 of these emails were distributed on Cyber Monday alone,” an official release reads.

Another notable trend among phishing emails this year is that scammers have been sending legitimate-looking emails that ask users to confirm orders. Ken Westin, a security analyst with Tripwire, notes that these emails may see more clicks because of people’s “impulsive nature” at this time of year.

BrandProtect also noted a rise in the presence of fake apps. “In 2014, BrandProtect detected 3,182 listings for potentially malicious mobile apps targeting Black Friday or Cyber Monday shoppers, which is nearly a 294 percent increase in mobile activity since 2013.”

We’ve seen in the past that users are migrating towards mobile apps for their online shopping need, and new e-commerce services are opening all the time. With a richer environment of apps and more users trying new apps for the first time, the possibility of users encountering scam apps increases. BrandProtect’s data shows a startling increase in the last 12 months.

So how do businesses prepare for the surge of shopping, while still protecting their brand image and delivering a quality customer service experience? Proactively monitor your image, and weed out the bad actors.