As holiday shopping season ramps up, so are scammers coming for your money

ATLANTA — As the holiday season approaches, many people will be shopping online, and that has cyber security experts worried.

They are already seeing more cyber-attacks and that could get worse as more people jump online.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported last year was the biggest year for new businesses that were created. Experts are expecting the same for this year, but because of this, they say cyber attackers are not only going after consumers who are shopping online but also small mom and pop businesses.

So far this year, many of those last-minute shoppers say they’re trying to get a head start on holiday shopping.

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Shoppers like Hannah Wilde say that while she’s doing some of her shopping in person, the other half will be online.

“Usually, I’m kind of a last-minute planner,” Wilde said.

She’ll be joining millions of holiday shoppers across the metro area who’ve resorted to online sales since the pandemic.

It’s an increase that makes shoppers not only susceptible to good deals, but also scams.

Cybersecurity expert Andy Green with Kennesaw State University told Channel 2′s Ashli Lincoln that they’re already seeing a trend of cyber attackers finding new ways to go after consumers and small business pockets.

“As consumers we need to be mindful that these attacks are coming in and they could come in from this direction, or they might come in from this direction, or this direction but the concepts of how to stay safe are almost universal,” Green said. “You just can’t be too sure.”


Green said criminals will try to access your personal information through emails, text messages, social media and even phone calls, posing as fake companies or charities, all in an attempt to steal your money.

“And by the time you catch on, you realize that charity is a scam. So that money is just gone,” Green said.

For consumers, experts advise not clicking on any links from suspicious numbers, keeping security software updated and avoiding phishing scams.

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But for businesses, Channel 2 consumer adviser Clark Howard said small businesses should invest in cybersecurity insurance.

“Businesses are the most vulnerable from the fake text messages the emails, phone calls,” Howard said. “For us as individuals, this is really overkill and a lot of companies are trying to get us to add it on, through our homeowners’ insurance. And that’s not really necessary. But for a small business, if you are shut down and you have no revenue coming in, you’re out of business.”

“That’s definitely scary. I guess you have to be vigilant and watch out for any scams out there,” Wilde said.

Experts say business who do a lot of their selling online and rely on digital devices for payments are generally the most vulnerable.

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