Cracking the Fake Retail Website Code

In our Ultimate Holiday Shopping Cyber Security Guide, we mentioned that we would break down a fake retail website. Check out the short video we created here that gives you some red flags to be aware of.

What we didn’t address in the video we’ll do so here. First, how does this affect you the shopper?

How fake retail sites affect your shopping experience

Malware on your devices

The website itself may have malicious code on it the moment your web browser fully renders the web page. Objects like buttons that you click/tap on can also launch malicious functions on your device. The same goes for opening up any links or downloading attachments like PDFs.

Stolen personal/sensitive/payment information

Any registration or contact form on these types of sites can collect sensitive information that’s sent to the bad actor. Examples are username/password, “billing address,” credit/debit card information, date of birth, phone number, and email address. Using any contact information they provide on the site, like an email address or phone number, are more opportunities to collect sensitive information.

Additional costs to you:

  • Time: Time spent trying to fix the problem. This includes phone calls to your bank and credit card issuer, monitoring your accounts, or taking time off of work to take care of things. If it’s malware, you might spend time looking up how to remove it.
  • Stress. You might worry about who is in possession of your sensitive information and what they’re doing with it. If you’re attempting to DIY malware removal, you may wonder if you got everything out of your device. If the malware spreads to other devices on your home network, it’s another stressor.
  • Money to clean up the mess. The cost of travel, to taking time off work(if need be), to hiring professionals to help you resolve the issue, to buying a new device if the current one is beyond saving, will add up on top of what you lost to a scam.

Our advice to you is to invest a little up front so that you are as prepared as possible if something goes wrong. We offer education, digital footprint reviews, and identity theft protection/identity restoration services for you and your family.

Now let’s explore how a fake retail page affects a business.

How fake retail websites affect businesses

  • Loss of revenue. A fake retail site set up to look like your business has the potential to divert sales away from you to the scammer’s wallet; whether they take the money and run or sell knockoffs of your goods or services. If word gets out in a very public way, news of these fake retail sites that look like yours may drive potential customers away from doing business with you, further increasing your loss of revenue.
  • Infringement of your intellectual property. From the design, images, logo, and copy of your e-tail site, to selling counterfeit items of yours, this contributes to your loss of revenue, bringing harm to your customers, and damaging your organization’s reputation.
  • Harm to your customers. As we noted in how fake retail sites affect shoppers, they can become infected with malware, have their personal information stolen, or be sold a counterfeit item that could physically harm them.
  • Damage to your reputation. With fake retail websites(and social media profiles), the damage is done once customers get scammed, or hacked, and tie their experience of the fake retail site/social media profile to your business. The possibility of them leaving negative reviews on your social media pages, Google Reviews, Yelp, TrustPilot, etc, and the prospect of your business ending up in the news about something like this is a PR nightmare. You have an uphill battle to get the public to trust you.

If you’re a business owner reading this we recommend you get ahead of the game and start looking for fake websites and social media profiles posing as your business, or you. As part of our services, we look for these kinds of sites/profiles and stuff that may infringe on your intellectual property. We also have connections to intellectual property attorneys, so if you, or we, find something, we are happy to make a referral so you can see what your legal options are.

Resources to report fake retail websites

First, document everything (screenshots of all pages on the website, information you provided, link/domain name of site, any contact information on the site, goods/services the site is selling, date and time you visited(You can get this from your web browser history), how you paid, how much the good/service was.)

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