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Online Fraud Is Predicted To Jump This Holiday Season

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday mean low prices on expensive items for frugal online shoppers. But it's also a time when people can fall victim to fraud.

On Thanksgiving, a fraudulent ad appeared to shoppers who typed "Amazon" into Google's search bar. The ad redirected them to a different URL than that of the online shopping giant, which told them their computer was infected with malware and that they needed to call a number for help immediately.

The man who answered the number had a South Asian accent and said his name was Robert, reports CBS News. He hung up the phone when asked whether it was a scam. A separate call was answered by another man who said the issue could be fixed for a "one-time fee of $149.99." The ad has since been removed.

British bank Barclays produced its Digisafe Christmas Survey, which found the 2017 holiday season could be the most fraudulent to date, reports The Guardian.

More than $1.5 billion could be lost to fraud in 2017, with an average loss of about $1,060 per victim. The data was compiled based on information in the U.K., but U.S. shoppers are also vulnerable to fraud.

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CNBC reports that consumers are expected to spend $6.6 billion on Cyber Monday, according to an estimate from Adobe Insights. Data from OpenVPN shows that attacks against consumers will increase by 40 percent that same day.

OpenVPN reports that older consumers, in the 40-49, 50-59 and 60 and above age range, are frequently the most targeted group of cybercrime victims. They also found that men are 75 percent more likely to be a victim of cybercrime than women, but that may depend on where you live.

Certain states, particularly in the south, are more likely to have female victims of cybercrime. The states with higher figures for cybercrime, including California, Texas, New Mexico and New York, are more likely to target males.

Suggestions for avoiding cybercrime include monitoring your account for unusual purchases, setting strong passwords and only using one credit card for your online purchases.

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Ensuring that websites have a two-factor verification system before making transactions is also important according to Francis Dinha, co-founder and CEO of OpenVPN. Two-factor systems typically require that you verify your account with another source such as a code received via phone or email.

Dihna says that systems such as Apple Pay, PayPal and Amazon Pay add another layer of security.

Sources: The Guardian, CBS News, CNBC / Featured Image: Pixabay / Embedded Images: Elaine Smith/Flickr, Wellness GM/Flickr

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