Consumers hoping to take advantage of the latest technology may fall victim to a bevy of scammers.
A recent report by the Washington Post pointed to Apple’s iPad as a popular target for these cybercrooks, who may offer fraudulent discounts on the $499 device to those who enter an address or credit card number.
Using this stolen information, identity thieves may be able to purchase electronics and shop them overseas for resale. This is a less risky approach than transferring money, and is particularly profitable with Apple products, which often fetch higher prices on the international market.
“Discrepancies like this can be tempting to black-market buyers and sellers,” the report said.
The sweeping nature of these scams often gives thieves access to dozens of credit card numbers. Using them to make small purchases allows such scammers to determine which numbers are active, without triggering a lender or consumer’s suspicion.
Online fraud has become more prevalent in recent years, increasing by 22.3 percent from 2008 to 2009, according to data from the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
Criminals involved in this type of crime often have an advantage over commercial banks and borrowers. Access to the latest technology may allow them to remain under the radar longer than other identity thieves.
There are some steps consumers should take in order to protect themselves from these scams. First, it is best to reject any online offers than seem too good to be true and employ caution when opening emails from unknown senders. These emails may include attachments that contain malware, allowing senders to trace a consumer’s online activity.
Consumers should also be wary when entering personal information like a credit card or Social Security number online. Reading the fine print can help protect them from post-transaction marketing practices, which place monthly charges on a credit card, and scams on electronic devices.
“If the iPad turns out to be as much of a blockbuster as Apple hopes, it’s safe to assume the device will play a starring role in online scams for some time to come,” the report said.
Detecting fraudulent charges is the first step in stopping them. Credit monitoring services allow consumers to keep track of their credit history, which can be badly damaged by identity thieves.
Carefully viewing their monthly credit card bills can also alert consumers to fraud. Those who think their information has been compromised should contact their lender immediately to prevent further charges and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.