SCAMMED! A #CyberSecurity Story
I was out $67 with a single click. It could have been so much worse.
Scrolling through my phone in August, I happened across a sale ad for Keen sandals. I had been looking for summer footwear that would stand up to a lot of walking, and the brand has a great reputation. I owned a pair of Keen hiking shoes, so I knew the price ($67 marked down from $135) for Keen quality was a great deal.
What I ordered:
Heavily cushioned ‘memory’ footbed; pliable elastic straps; molded sole. (Photo from the ad.)
What I received:
Thin footbed; scratchy, non-stretch straps; hard plastic, glued-on sole. Added plus: sandals reek strongly of petrochemicals. (Photo from real life.)
What I did wrong:
Shopping from my phone, I didn’t realize the name “Keenwalking” wasn’t just a descriptor of Keen walking sandals, but the name of a fraudulent company. I didn’t do the usual diligence I would perform on a laptop and neglected to search out where the company was located or look for third-party reviews.
In a hurry, I didn’t use PayPal for my purchase to protect my credit card, and instead opted to let my Visa auto-populate the payment box. This means a company in Zhejiang, China (that warned me that other customers “had wished they had made a deal with us” when I requested a refund) now has access to my credit banking.
What I can do:
I can open a dispute with my credit card company and go through the time-consuming process of proving that I was de-frauded by an overseas business, and I can leave a warning on Keenwalking’s social media platforms in case other people bother to check before buying from this company.
I realize that being aware and pro-active while shopping online is so much easier and less expensive than trying to protect my finances after my purchase; I also know that if this could slip by me and my lazy browsing it could likely happen to anyone, so I searched out some refresher tips to save you from being an online shopper victim.
LifeLock offers an excellent list of 15 reminders to keep you shopping safely from your phone or computer. The list is a little more helpful than most, and goes beyond the usual Practice Safe Browsing basics. For instance, I should have used LifeLock’s tip #2, “vet new-to-you businesses” which specifically warns “check the ‘contact us’ page on the website for a U.S. address and phone number. Then take it a step further: call the business to verify.”
In addition, tip #15 urges me to “report scammers” and to “file a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).” (I am really hoping my scam situation doesn’t spiral into identity theft, but it’s good to know the FTC offers an identity theft recovery plan.)
Cybercrime is big business
The Internet Crime Complaint Center reports that it took nearly seven years to log its first million complaints. It took only 14 months over 2020–21 to add the most recent million. Most of the cybercrimes are far more serious than my shopping mishap, and fall under sad or scary categories, such as sextortion complaints, grandparent fraud scams, counterfeit coin scams, and bizarrely, a criminal category listed as “Iranian Cyber Actors Continue to Threaten US Election Officials”.
What does the increase in cybercrime mean for all of us? As the FBI and FTC struggle to contain an ever-growing and highly sophisticated internet problem, consumers need to realize that we are going to have to act as our own first line of defense. No government agency can possibly protect us from the onslaught of global strangers we invite into our homes, workplaces, schools and banks via unthinking clicks on computers or cellphones. With holiday shopping approaching, take my ‘Keenwalking’ experience as a warning and take LifeLock’s tips to heart — and share the information with friends and relatives who shop online and may have a lot more to lose than a pair of sandals. ~
FOR MICHIGAN RESIDENTS: The Michigan Secure App
Defend your cellphone: download the free Michigan Secure App! While mobile phones do provide some security features like PINs and lock codes, most do not come with security software to detect threats or vulnerabilities.
Your mobile phone has many entry points that need to be protected, such as your camera, access to apps, and your location information.
Michigan Secure also provides critical information and directions on what to do if your phone is at risk of compromise. Download Michigan Secure from the App Store or Google Play.