Black Friday has come and gone and now we have Cyber Monday to look forward to. Cyber Monday was coined by the National Retail Federation because it represents one the largest e-commerce shopping days of the year.

While shoppers search the Internet for all the “deals” that will be offered, another element – the cyber criminals – will be offering “goods and services” at too good to be true prices.

If we are to believe recent statistics, the cyber-criminals will be out there in force.

According to the National Consumers League and National Cyber Security Alliance, ten percent of us could become a victim of Internet crime.

Gartner Inc. recently reported that the number of phishing attempts has nearly doubled in the past two years and the Anti-Phishing Working Group has reported similar statistics.

Phishing is a leading cause of identity theft and financial crimes, where recipients of a “phishy” e-mail appearing to from be a legitimate brand (normally financial institution), click on a link leading to a fake website and are conned into giving up information (personal and financial).

Auction fraud has also grown to the point that it now is the number-one complaint filed with the Internet Crime Complaint Center or IC3. Internet auctions have become a popular place to buy Christmas gifts.

And a massive bot-net of “zombie” computers designed to attack in-boxes across the world has been seen forming on the horizon to facilitate the “holiday attack.” Anyone noticed how many spam e-mails are getting past your spam filters lately? The speculation is that these will be to perform phishing expeditions, and or spread other scams.

The National Consumers League and the National Cyber Alliance offer the following tips, here.

Government sources are also great places for information on how to protect yourself from cyber-criminals.

The Federal Trade Commission has a lot of great information on how to protect yourself and report suspected criminal activity, here. And not to be outdone, the FBI covers a lot of these crimes and has a place where they can be reported, here.
If you are a more “visual” type, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has an excellent video – geared towards the average user – on how to avoid cyber-criminals, here.

While the cyber-criminals will be out there in force this holiday season – being aware helps guarantee that you will be one of the ninety percent that will “just say no” to their various schemes.

Always remember, if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t!

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