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87% of Aussie shoppers expect AI-driven holiday scams

McAfee Corp., a global leader in online protection has released the results of its inaugural Global Holiday Shopping Scams Study. The study surveyed more than 7,000 adults in seven countries to discover how scam messages and AI-driven scam sophistication are influencing holiday shopping sentiments.

It reveals that 21% of Australian consumers anticipate increased cybercriminal activity during the holidays. Notably, 87% Aussies believe that the use of artificial intelligence by cybercriminals will impact online scams. Moreover, 20% of Australians have fallen victim to holiday scams, with 56% reporting financial losses, including 22% losing over $500. The study further reveals the online shopping habits of Aussies during the holiday season.

As Aussies get ready to holiday shop online, cybercrooks are getting ready too. They are using the power of AI to craft deceptive websites, phishing emails, and malicious text messages, hoping to trick unsuspecting victims. “With AI emerging as a scammer’s weapon of choice, it’s crucial to arm yourself with the most advanced AI protection for your privacy, identity, and personal information,” advises Tyler McGee, Head of APAC at McAfee. “As AI has evolved, scammers have become more sophisticated, so it’s essential to stay vigilant and informed. Stay cautious, think before you click, and utilise AI-powered online protection products to keep the cyber grinches at bay.”

Furthermore, McAfee’s research unwrapped three key insights about online holiday shopping scams, and sheds light on the heightened stress people face while shopping for loved ones and working to protect themselves from AI-assisted digital scammers. The survey results are detailed below.

The 2023 McAfee Holiday Shopping Scams Study unwraps three key insights:

Cyber Grinches at Play:

  • With 66% of Aussies planning to shop online, cybercriminals are capitalising on increased online activity.
  • 74% believe cybercriminals are more active during the holidays, with 20% falling victim to scams, resulting in financial losses for 56%.

Shopping Trends:

  • 39% find it more likely to jump on a good deal amid inflation. Aussies plan to shop around, with 84% seeking the best deals.
  • 41% Aussies make online purchases late at night, 21% at work, 17% during dinner, and 16% even on the toilet.

AI’s Impact:

  • 87% of Aussies foresee AI’s influence on holiday scams.
  • 52% believe scam emails will be more convincing, 35% anticipate difficulty distinguishing real from fake messages, and 21% expect increased scams due to AI.
    • Nearly half of Australian consumers (45%) who think that online scams will increase hope that they can be more alert to fake messages.
    • 33% indicate they do not plan to change their online shopping behaviour despite expecting an increase in online scams.

The study concludes with tips to protect against falling for scam messages, emphasising vigilance, skepticism, and leveraging AI-driven technologies such as McAfee Scam Protection for a secure online experience:

  • Think before you click. Cybercriminals use phishing emails or fake sites to lure people into clicking links that could lead to malware. If you receive an email or text message asking you to click on a link, even if it’s a great-sounding deal or indicates it’ll provide useful information such as a parcel deliver update, it’s best to avoid interacting with the message altogether. Always go direct to the source and interact with reputable companies.
  • Remember that if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Many scams are effective because the scammer creates a false sense of urgency or preys on a heightened emotional state. Pause before you rush to interact with any message that is threatening or urgent, especially if it is from an unknown or unlikely sender.
  • Use AI to beat AI. From blocking dangerous links that appear on text messages, social media, or web browsers, customers across all platforms can take advantage of the AI-driven technology behind McAfee Scam Protection to engage with text messages, read emails, and browse the web peacefully and securely.
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