INDIANA NEWS: The Grinch could be lurking online this holiday season

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (INS) – It’s the time of year when many of us are in holiday mode, but unfortunately thieves and scammers don’t take any time off.

As a matter of fact, they step up their game because they know people are spending more money than usual and may be rushed and not paying close attention to details.

As more of us shop online, Jason Tomcsi, communications director for AARP Indiana, says stay vigilant, because cyber thieves can cleverly disguise emails and websites to look legitimate.

“You’ve got to carefully read that website address to look for missing characters or extra letters from the retailers’ name or things like deals, sales, discounts as part of the URL,” he stresses. “Sometimes those are fake websites that then take your information once you get to it.”

Tomsci says watch out for fake shopping sites and apps, and those promising freebies when you place an order.

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, by 2021, cyber crime will cost $6 trillion a year and that will be more profitable than the global trade of all major illegal drugs combined.

Tomcsi says thieves are always trying to take advantage when it comes to people who want to help out and make charitable contributions.

“Hot-button causes that benefit police and firefighters and military, all those things are things that they’re going to try to use,” he points out. “There’s actual organizations that are doing good work, and they’ll try to use those as a front to get in the door.”

AARP has a Fraud Watch Network that has information on which scams are currently circulating and how to keep from falling victim to holiday grinches.