Don't fall for this online shopping scam

It's Cyber Monday: Do you know where that e-commerce order confirmation is from?

Perhaps not where you think. A consumer advocacy group warns that online shoppers are being peppered with emails that appear to be confirmations of purchases from big U.S. retailers, but are really a scam. Among the retailers whose emails are being spoofed: Walmart (WMT), Target (TGT) and Costco (COST), says Edgar Dworsky, founder of ConsumerWorld.org. If you click on the link that purports to get you a status update on your order, you'll end up on an overseas website where malware will be downloaded to your computer.

"This is the perfect crime at the perfect time," Dworsky said. "Shoppers are busy placing orders between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so they would naturally expect to find these confirmations in their inbox. And even if they didn't place an order with the particular retailer, they may believe that a mistake may have taken place and want to see the details."

The message subject lines are similar in most of the scam emails, other than the name of the retailer changing. They will typically say: "Thank you for buying from..."

To avoid ending up on a scam site, Dworsky recommends that anyone getting a similar email hold their mouse over the link to see where it is going. If the address is not a legitimate site, don't click on it. Also beware of site addresses that are similar to a known site or have the right name in the wrong place.

  • Mitch Lipka On Twitter» On Facebook» On Google+»

    Mitch Lipka is an award-winning consumer columnist. He was in charge of consumer news for AOL's personal finance site and was a senior editor at Consumer Reports. He was also a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, among other publications.