CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Cyber Monday is one of the most popular shopping days of the year for consumers, retailers and cybercriminals.
This year ICE and Global law enforcement conducted Project Cyber Monday 3. This was their sting operation to shut down 132 web sites selling counterfeit goods.
ICE, which is the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's group within the Department of Homeland Security sent agents undercover online. How did they find the cybercriminals? By shopping just as if they were you and me. They bought items with pro sports logos and the latest name brands that are popular this season.
They confirmed with the stores that sell the real deal that they were fakes and then shut down the domain names. But WBTV's cyber expert, Theresa Payton, says it's no time to let your guard down. Here's her advice:
HOW TO AVOID BEING A VICTIM
1. Stick to names you know and type them in yourself; don't navigate to them from links in emails, ads, or searches
2. Pay attention to how the items look online vs. at other retail stores
3. Use your credit card for the best level of consumer protection
4. Use a website safety checker to validate the site
SOME RED FLAGS:
1. The site is a name you have not heard of before
2. The site looks "official" but it's a variation on a big name like "wal-marts.com"
3. The site asks for a lot of personal information before you even make a purchase
4. misspellings spellings and bad grammar
5. Poor quality graphics or pictures of the items on the website
REPORT FAKE OR SUSPICIOUS SITES:
1. Contact the FBI's internet crime center at: www.ic3.gov/crimeschemes.aspx
2. Contact the Federal Trade Commission at: www.FTC.gov
WORD OF THE WEEK: NotInMyBackyard Diggity. This is a free tool (only available for machines running Microsoft) that will scour the web to alert you to sensitive information that's wide open on the web for all to see. Businesses and consumers can use it to check across sites such as PasteBin, YouTube, Twitter, Dropbox, Microsoft SkyDrive, and Google Docs. It can look for names or specific files.