Fraudsters and scammers have been registering look-alike domain names that impersonate popular retail brands to fool consumers as the holiday shopping season approaches. The websites hosted at these look-alike domain names attempt to trick consumers into giving up their personal data, such as name, date of birth, email and phone number, with the promise of possibly winning gift cards or other prizes that will never be awarded.
Other look-alike websites may try to trick people into logging in and giving up their password that might be used to access customer loyalty rewards programs. According to ZeroFOX, links to these fake websites are likely advertised on social media and digital platforms. “In order to increase visibility, scammers often leverage hashtags in their posts, like #blackfriday, #cybermonday, and #giveaway.
This makes these posts more likely to be shown to social media users, based on the social platform’s algorithms, and also makes them searchable. Similarly, scammers may leverage fake accounts to like and share or retweet these scam posts, giving them more legitimacy” reported ZeroFOX. Of the 26 brands that ZeroFox studied, Apple, Amazon, and Target were the most impersonated. The number of fake websites increased by about 233% over 2018.
Business owners and IT security professionals should be aware of newly registered domain names that mimic their brand name or domain name. Some advice for avoiding these scams is to be suspicious of deals that are too good to be true. Huge discounts delivered over email from unknown senders are a likely bait for scams. Check the domain name for the sender, misspelled domain names are rarely, if ever, genuine. Don’t click on links in emails or social media posts; instead, search the brand’s legitimate website to browse the deals available. The most legitimate ad only asks for a customer’s email address, if a site asks for information such as date of birth, full name, phone number, and other sensitive information then it should be treated as suspicious.