It’s the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S and Black Friday is an event that many people come to expect during the holiday season. I recall asking my 10 years old son, do you want to get up at 5 AM and go shopping with me to buy new computers or TV. “Yes, dad! I want to get up early and go with you.”

Many people in the Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Bay Area will be familiar with Fry’s Electronics. Fry’s Electronics is my favorite local store to shop at on Black Friday and all things electronics. Getting in line at 5 AM, and waiting for the door to open was exciting and challenging because there is a limited number of items and there are so many people looking for the same deals. Dealing the crowds and long checkout lines is not a fun experience.

Today, shopping is mostly an online activity. The experience is different, and the challenges are also different. One of the most significant differences is the online threat. When we buy from Amazon, Costco, or other online stores, most items are shipped via FedEx, UPS, and USPS. We get email notifications when the item is ordered or when the item will ship.

Cybercriminals know this and create fake emails or text messages to confirm orders or verify shipping. Often the criminals may send an order confirmation that you didn’t buy, but you are prompted to click a link and call them to confirm the order. As a result of clicking on the link or calling them, the criminal steals your credit card, identity, and other information.

According to the FTC, about 96,000 people reported being targeted [by a scammer claiming to be Amazon], and nearly 6,000 said they lost money. Reported losses totaled more than $27 million. The reported median individual loss: $1,000.”

What can you do you protect against online threats and protect against phishing emails?

  1. Remember this key phrase: SLAM and use this guideline to help you stay safe:
  • Sender: Confirm that the sender’s email address is from the correct company you ordered
  • Links: Hover the URL link or website link in the message of the email to confirm it is the correct company website
  • Attachment: Do not open any attachments from anyone you don’t know.
  • Message: check if there is any error in the email message or misspelled domain name or company.

2. If you are still not sure about the email, call the phone number on the vendor website, do not call the phone in the email, to confirm the order.

3. Check with your computer security is protected with the latest email spam protection, has updated anti-virus, and a firewall.

4. Do not let anyone you don’t know remotely access your computer.

Enjoy the Holidays and Stay Safe online!

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