Bargain hunters beware!

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With Christmas just around the corner, cyber criminals are luring in online shoppers with sites that provide incredible promos on designer items and fancy gadgets, according to security experts.

“Sometimes, the pathway to being a victim to fraud is the desire to find a bargain without really thinking about it,” said John Buzzard, a fraud expert at FICO Card Alert Service.

These websites usually offer deals that are “too good to be true” to tempt buyers to reveal their credit card information, while others send customers cheap items instead of the expensive ones they believe they have ordered.

Fraudulent websites usually entice people with incredible deals like a US$500 handbag for US$20, and the item descriptions on these portals are often poorly worded, noted Miranda Perry at Scambook.com.

One of the easiest ways to verify that a deal or website is legitimate is to conduct some research. Look for complaints about a website or feedback on a particular product. Potential buyers can even google the name of the site and add the word “scam”.

Another troubling trend is that many smartphone owners (40 per cent) do not use a password to protect their device, according to a study by Harris International and Experian, a global information services group.

If a smartphone does not require a password to unlock, a thief can easily access a person’s stored credit card information, noted Experian ProtectMyID senior manager Becky Frost.

Moreover, around 57 per cent of e-shoppers use links to shop instead of directly accessing an online retailer’s website, making them vulnerable to websites that capture confidential information.

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