Black Friday and Cyber Monday ushered in holiday shopping, but the jingle-jangle of AI has shoppers wrapped in worry about seasonal scams.


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In a recent survey conducted by McAfee, 88% of U.S. consumers think hackers will use AI to “create compelling online scams” during the holidays. Meanwhile, 57% expect scam emails and messages will be more believable while 31% think it’ll be harder to know if messages from retailers or delivery services are real or not. (The report includes answers from 7,100 adults surveyed this past September in the U.S., Australia, India, U.K., France, Germany and Japan.)

Concerns about AI could also lead some to shop less online; 19% of respondents that expressed worry about AI said they plan to shop less online this year as result. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case for everyone. According to Adobe Analytics, U.S. shoppers spent a record $12.4 billion on Cyber Monday this year, a 9.6% increase over 2022.

Using AI to craft a well written email or other correspondence has become popular with fraudsters, explained McAfee CTO Steve Grobman. Holiday shopping also poses risks for digitally active consumers who are buying gifts on websites they might not usually visit, Grobman said, adding that “sometimes a deal that’s a great deal can can play at odds with your sense of caution.”

Since the beginning of the year, McAfee has developed a number of tools for detecting and preventing scams, including a way to automatically alert people about dangerous links in messages. The company also is developing AI models that predict if a text someone receives has the potential to be related to a scam. (For example, if an online shopper is asked to provide their social security number while buying a vinyl record.)

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