SAVE   |   EMAIL   |   PRINT   |   RSS  
Cyber scams to soar Tuesday?
Report: Experts say free shipping deadline causes flood of online buying that opens door for fraud.
December 13, 2005: 7:33 AM EST
The rush to beat free shipping deadlines Tuesday could reportedly open the door for an increase in online fraud.
The rush to beat free shipping deadlines Tuesday could reportedly open the door for an increase in online fraud.

NEW YORK ( - Tuesday is expected to be a very busy day for online shoppers and for cyber thieves, according to a published report.

USA Today reports that Tuesday is expected to be a busy day because it is the last day many sites offer free shipping with the promise that the item will be delivered before Christmas.

But because of the crush of online traffic, it is also a day that online security experts expect a spike in fraudulent purchases and other scams, the newspaper reported.

"If the Monday after Thanksgiving is the day to shop online, the Tuesday in mid-December is the time to steal," Ken Leonard, CEO of ScanAlert, a security-software firm that tracks data from nearly 70,000 e-commerce sites, told the newspaper.

Leonard told the newspaper that he predicts a 50 percent spike Tuesday in online thieves using stolen credit-card numbers to buy online, and from hackers trying to gain illegal access to customer and employee data on Web sites. He blames overtaxed security workers for the expected increase in fraudulent orders.

Hacking and fraud are up 22 percent in the first 10 months of this year compared with 2004, he told the newspaper, as online spending soared 24 percent to $9.8 billion through Dec. 2, according to market researcher ComScore Networks.

Among the types of fraud seeing the greatest increase this year are so-called phishing scams, in which a consumer is sent what looks like a legitimate e-mail from a cyber thief that purports to be from a reputable Web site, asking them to verify information such as credit card, bank account or Social Security card numbers.

The newspaper reports that there were 7.4 million such e-mails in November, up from 4.5 million in November 2004, according to MessageLabs, an e-mail security company that processes 150 million messages a day. Online auction site eBay and PayPal, its electronic-payment service, were the top phished sites last month, says CipherTrust, another e-mail security firm.

What's more, 23 percent of home PC users are hit each month with phishing attempts, according to a survey released last week by America Online and the National Cyber Security Alliance.

In addition, there has been an increase in so-called "botnets," which are infectious programs that turn home and small-business PCs into robots that are remotely controlled by hackers and criminals to spread spam, phishing scams and more viruses, the newspaper reports.

One in 22.9 e-mails in November contained a virus designed to turn a PC into a bot, compared with only 1 in 2,500 in 2000, according to MessageLabs.


For a special report on online fraud and what you can do to protect yourself, click here.  Top of page

Electronic Commerce
Manage alerts | What is this?