The holiday season can be a time for togetherness and joy, but it can also be a time when going online gets more dangerous. Holiday scams rum rampant and can ruin an otherwise happy time of the year.
Approximately 25% of Americans report falling victim to fraud over the holidays. This can come in many forms, including phishing, credit card theft, spyware attacks, social media grifts, and more.
Without proper PC protection or using best practices when shopping online, you can easily become a victim of several common Christmas scams.
Phishing and credit card fraud are particularly high this time of year, so it’s important to be on guard and be aware of the scams you could be seeing in your inbox or on social media.
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Here are several to watch out for.
Holiday-Themed Mobile Apps
While not all holiday-themed mobile apps contain malware, this is a common ploy that attackers use. They create an app for something like making holiday labels or putting together a Christmas gift list and then behind the scenes hide malware inside.
Someone downloads the free holiday app and uses it without realizing that spyware has just infected their device and is hunting for online banking details and any other useful information to be found.
It’s best to only download apps from legitimate app stores. And before you download, check the app’s reviews online. If the app does contain malware, you’re bound to find mention of it on a Google search.
Social Media Gift Exchanges
We can become attached to the groups of friends that we make on sites like Facebook, and many of them do holiday exchanges of cards or gifts. But not all of these are legitimate.
Before you participate in any social media gift exchanges, make sure you truly know the participants and research them online. You may not only be out $10 if you send in a gift and never get one back. You may be the victim of identity theft because you’ve just given a scammer one more piece of personal information (your home address).
Free Gift Cards Scam
One common phishing scam is to offer a free Amazon or Starbucks gift card if you fill out a survey online. The survey may seem innocent at first, just asking questions about your likes and dislikes.
But the further you go, the more personal the questions get, until you reveal more details than you should, enough for someone to sell your personal data on the Dark Web. Those details can then be used for identity theft.
You should never click a link in an email from an unknown sender or one that promises something for free. If you really want to participate in a survey offer that you believe is legitimate, then go to the organization’s website directly and look for the survey there.
Sketchy Social Media Product Ads
Many social media feeds get filled up with product ads this time of year. They always seem to be products that fit our personalities so well too! This is because of all the demographic data on likes and dislikes that Facebook, Instagram, and other sites have about us.
If you order from an unknown retailer online, you may not get the item you saw in the flashy Facebook Post image. You may be shipped a cheap knockoff or not shipped anything at all.
Stick to only buying online from retailers you know.
Reports of Compromised Accounts
The Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker noted another holiday scam you need to watch out for. Cybercriminals are posing as representatives of popular sites like Amazon and PayPal. They reach out to consumers via email, text, or phone and claim that the person’s account has been compromised.
They then provide a link for the person to use to log in and reset their password. This is a scam, and the site is designed to steal your password and then use it to breach your account.
Phishing by Text Message for Shipping Notices
Many people opt to get their shipping notices for holiday purchases via text message. This ensures that you know as soon as a package arrives at your doorstep.
Scammers are taking advantage of how common these texts are and creating fake shipping text messages that have malicious links masquerading as a link to tracking.
Overall, phishing via SMS has been growing. Mobile numbers are not so private as they used to be. Be very careful about any text messages you receive and do not click links in them. Instead, go to your retailer or shipper’s site directly to check tracking.
Get Help Safeguarding Your Device From Online Threats
Two River Computer works with Fair Haven residential and business clients to keep them secure and optimized! Ask about our WebGuardian, which includes multiple safeguards for home and business devices.
Contact us today for a free consultation. Call 732-747-0020 or reach us online.