Cybercriminals often launch opportunistic scams and cyberattacks that take advantage of trending topics of interest or the time of year. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Better Business Bureau (BBB) alerted consumers to remain vigilant and exercise caution when shopping online for school supplies in order to prevent falling victim to a scam. Deloitte researchers indicated that nearly half of consumers choose to purchase school technology supplies online; however, supply chain disruptions leading to delayed deliveries have driven consumers to make risky purchase decisions.
In one incident reported to the NJCCIC, a victim purchased an advertised product online but received a different item. They called the vendor to request a return label, as return or exchange instructions were not posted on the vendor’s website. The victim was given arduous return instructions in a likely attempt to dissuade the consumer from returning the item and was told to call again after a few weeks to request the refund. Scams such as this are becoming more mainstream and difficult to identify. They often include attractive, flashy advertisements in phishing emails and on websites or social media and contain links to fraudulent websites.
The NJCCIC advises consumers to educate themselves and others to limit victimization. Additionally, consumers are advised to refrain from opening attachments or clicking links delivered in suspicious or unexpected emails and verify email sender information. Only known and reputable websites should be used to purchase goods online. Further recommendations can be found in the FTC article and BBB article.