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Smartphone shoppers: watch for online tricks
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Nov 21, 2012


Online US holiday sales seen growing 17 percent
Washington (AFP) Nov 21, 2012 - US online holiday sales are already on the rise, and are expected to grow 17 percent from last year to $43.4 billion, a new forecast said Wednesday.

The report from the research firm comScore showed retail e-commerce spending for the first 18 days of November-December holiday season were up 16 percent to $10.1 billion.

November 8 has been the heaviest online spending day of the season to date at $829 million, comScore said.

"The 2012 online holiday shopping season is off to an encouraging start with a 16 percent growth thus far," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni.

"Recent five-year highs in consumer confidence and early retailer promotions appear to be serving as wind in the sails for the beginning portion of the holiday season, with consumers opening up their wallets early and often."

The comScore forecast of a 17 percent gain would outpace last season's 15 percent increase and would be well ahead of the retail industry's expectation for a 4.1 percent increase in consumers' overall spending this holiday season.

"The strength leading up to and during the holiday season-to-date, in addition to a maximum 32 shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, provide the basis for what we view as a fairly optimistic outlook for the 2012 online holiday shopping season," said Fulgoni.

US government data showed ecommerce sales for the third quarter from August-September rose 3.7 percent to $57 billion, and accounted for some 5.2 percent of all retail sales.

Attention smartphone shoppers: watch for cybercriminals using phony apps or messages in an effort to hijack your device or steal your data.

Law enforcement and security experts say that as more people use their mobile devices in stores and on open Wi-Fi networks, the risks are increasing as well.

The FBI-backed Internet Crime Complaint Center is warning consumers to be on the lookout for fraudulent apps, messages and Wi-Fi networks which can trick users of mobile devices to divulge passwords, personal data or credit card numbers.

"Many times, e-mails, texts or phone calls will look or sound like they are coming from a well-known retailer, stating a need to 'verify' the full credit card number you used for a purchase or ask you to click a link to update personal account information," the center said.

The center said Android devices are often targeted by spyware, including one system called FinFisher, capable of taking a mobile device, or Loozfon, "an information-stealing piece of malware."

Security firm McAfee's Gary Davis said that as the popularity of apps surges, "so have the chances that you could download a malicious application designed to steal your information or even send out premium-rate text messages without your knowledge."

Davis said some fraudsters are using Twitter ads offering special discounts for popular gifts, linking to malicious software.

"Criminals are getting savvier with authentic-looking social ads and deals that take consumers to legitimate looking websites," Davis said.

"In order to take advantage of the deals or contests, they ask them for personal information that can obtain a shopper's credit card number, email address, phone number or home address."

Lookout, a security firm offering free apps for Android and iPhone, also urges prudence.

"Be careful what you do on public Wi-Fi networks especially when you're shopping. Do not expose passwords, account numbers or credit card information unless you are certain that you are on a secure connection," a company statement said.

"Use discretion when downloading apps. Even the most innocent-looking shopping app can contain software designed to steal personal data, make fraudulent charges or even hijack your phone. Only download apps from sites you trust."

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INTERNET SPACE
Smartphone shoppers get savvy for holiday deals
Washington (AFP) Nov 21, 2012
Anyone with a smartphone can now be a savvy cybershopper for the holiday season. With mobile Internet and apps, it is easy for someone in a store to compare prices on specific items, and then make a quick decision to buy or leave or to instantly make a purchase elsewhere. This is called "showrooming," a practice which traditional retailers dread, and which is surging with the spread of s ... read more


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