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  • Writer's pictureBurton Kelso, Tech Expert

How Can I Avoid ChatGPT / AI-Based Cyber Scams on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday?

Updated: Apr 10

Scammers know this holiday season you will be busy shopping for gifts online and trying to donate to charities — all activities they can use to actively target you with scams. According to the FBI, Americans lost over $281 million to online shopping and non-delivery scams last year alone. Also, with the rise of AI, cyber crooks are able to create cyber scams that will trick the most trained eye. Cybercrime is a human problem and we all must unite to make sure criminals don't continue to trick us. Let me show you the top ways criminals will work to get your information and your money and tips to help you stay protected this holiday season and beyond.

1. Watch out for AI-based Phishing scams. Now that criminals have access to AI, it will be easier for them to create scams that don't have the same misspelled words and poor sentence structure in the phishing messages they send out. These messages can come in the form of Fake Orders or Phony Tracking Numbers. Take extra measures to make sure the message you're getting is coming from a legitimate source. If there is a problem with an order or delivery, the message will appear in the app associated with the place you purchased the item or the shipping service you are using. If your gut doesn't feel right, delete the email or text message and pick up the phone to call. Bonus: If you're not sure what number to call visit to get the correct number to customer service.

2. Beware of Giving Tuesday Charity Scams: Giving Tuesday falls right after Cyber Monday.

During the holiday season, there’s a surge in charity donations, and scammers know this trend. They set up bogus charities and employ high-pressure tactics to get you to donate. Be wary of organizations that accept payment only through gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency. Go directly to the charities web site to donate money.

3. Don't You Dare Shop on TEMU Romwe or Shein. The deals on cheap products from China are so tempting you can buy gifts for everyone in your family without breaking your budget, but is it worth it to save money knowing that you're basically letting the Chinese government browse through your phone to gather your information for cyber criminals who will eventually attempt to scam you?

4. Monitor Your Accounts After making purchases, regularly monitor your bank and credit card statements. Report any unauthorized or suspicious transactions to your financial institution immediately. The sooner you identify and report any issues, the better your chance of resolving them swiftly.

5. Beware of Online shopping scams. In our digital age, there are online shops that use merchants from all over the world. Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous individuals out there who are looking to take advantage of online purchasers. Make sure you read reviews for products to make sure they are legit. Many times fraudsters will pose as merchants only to be criminals.

6. Shoulder surfing is a real thing. Shoulder surfing occurs when scammers listen in or spy on you as you enter your card details in public. Skimming devices steal your credit and debit card information when you use unsecured ATMs — such as at gas stations or outside your bank or credit union.

Some other tips to remember are:

Go to the source. 99% of cybercrime requires user interaction. Avoid clicking on links in email, social media, and texts. Don’t click on ads on social media or even in texts or emails.

Stop using passwords and use passphrases. Passwords are the strongest thing for keeping your online accounts safe. Consider using passphrases for all of your online accounts. Passphrases like "stinkychicken437!" or "PurpleStrongOtter#*!" are easier for you to remember. Also, don't use the same passwords for all your online accounts. Password managers like LastPass and the ones in your favorite browser can help you remember all of those different passwords.

Use the official retailer and charity apps. If your favorite online retailer or charity has an app, download it and use it to ensure all of your transactions are safe and secure.

Secure your online accounts with 2FA. Whenever possible, enable two-factor authentication (2FA) to make it harder for hackers to break into your account.

I'm not trying to be a Grinch when it comes to your holiday shopping plans. I just want to make sure all of you enjoy this season of light and remind you to be vigilant and aware of the assortment of ways criminals will try to take advantage of your trust and kindness

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