Christmas could be the season for giving, but it addittionally the growing season for scamming, according to internet security firm McAfee.
As increasingly more consumers now use their smartphones to greatly help manage the demands of the vacation season, the chance of contact with malicious software or malware, which enables cyber criminals to steal private information, is greater than ever.
Here, we reveal the 12 most prevalent scams that will help you be extra vigilant and keep your festive good mood intact this yuletide.
1. Not-so-merry mobile apps
The vacation season has prompted the launch of a complete selection of fresh mobile applications, or ‘apps,’ made to improve the holiday shopping experience. But McAfee warns consumers to believe twice before downloading; malicious software can masquerade as a reliable app, allowing cyber criminals to steal private information and charge purchases to your accounts. Only update your apps through the use of the official, trusted app store to reduce this risk.
2. Holiday mobile SMS scams
Scammers obtain your mobile numbers from websites or forms people you may have innocently given your contact details too. One technique is to focus on victims by sending texts promising "free" gifts or prizes, but consumers who go through the links may find themselves handing over sensitive information in trade for the free gift, exposing them to credit card fraud and identity theft. Texters also needs to be careful that they don’t really find themselves unwittingly registered to reduced rate texting service that racks up a hefty bill. A whole lot worse, malware may also hide in the backdrop watching your texts for bank authorization codes to steal. Monitor your bills for unusual texting charges.
3. Hot holiday gift scams
The old adage ‘if it appears too good to be true it probably is’ rings true in terms of holiday scams. Avoid seemingly incredible deals on the most recent tablet devices, game consoles, and other hot gadgets. In the event that you click a web link to enter a contest or get yourself a great deal on a fresh device you could end through to a niche site that attempts to trick you into downloading malware or revealing your individual information. In order to avoid getting duped, McAfee experts recommend being suspicious of suprisingly low prices and online stores you’ve never heard about.
4. Seasonal travel scams
Travel is a big the main holiday season for most people, and we often search for the very best flights and hotel deals online. But cyber criminals can be found here as well, spending so much time to trick you into quitting your credit card numbers and other personal information. The same rule on christmas gift scams applies here, be skeptical of unrealistically low prices on vacations and adhere to reputable sites.
5. Dangerous E-Season Greetings
Yes, you guessed it; even electronic handmade cards can contain malware which makes itself at home on your own tablet, phone or computer when you select e-card link. Some are safe and harmless, McAfee advises not opening the hyperlink if you don’t know the sender. Also you can check the address that the e-card originated from to verify it belongs to the best, known greeting company.
6. Deceptive online flash games
Many people enjoy playing online and interactive games on the smartphones and tablets, but a seemingly harmless game could also be used by cyber criminals to lure you into downloading malware. As long as you’re busy ridding the world of zombies, malware could possibly be busy extracting your individual information. Game fans should check online reviews for warnings from less fortunate gamers and adhere to well-known app stores.
7. Shopping notification shams
Cyber criminals know you’ll receive deliveries through the holidays, so they distribute fake but realistic electronic mails with shipping verification requests, but filling in bogus forms can result in account theft or identity fraud. Check the sender’s email to see whether it’s valid, consider spelling and grammar mistakes – a trademark danger sign of a fake email – and remember, most shippers will curently have the information they want so will never have to require it again.
8. Bogus gift cards
Gift cards is definitely an attractive solution for buying gifts for hard-to-please friends or fussy relatives, but there are bogus ones around. The safest way to get online is from the official retailer, not alternative party websites; otherwise you could end up getting a red-faced friend trying to look at the mall with a fake gift card!
9. Holiday ‘SMiShing’
Most individuals are alert to email ‘phishing’ scams where cyber criminals masquerade as a trustworthy entity and try to extract user names, passwords and credit card details. But as cell phones and tablets are are more popular, ‘SMiShing’ – or text phishing – is currently becoming just as dangerous. Most legitimate businesses could not request you to provide personal stats, passwords or other sensitive information in a text. Rather than replying, contact the business directly by phone.
10. Fake charities
The festive period can encourage many to think about those less fortunate than them, and may prompt generous donations to charities. Cyber criminals will be ready to make the most as always. Look out for fake charities using copied texts and logos in emails or online, and check the sender’s email – some fake charity branding can look almost identical to authentic ones – so be vigilant.
11. Romance scams
Everyone wants special someone to share the holiday season with, and online dating services have become a favorite way to meet up people. However your prospective holiday romance is probably not who she or he seems, and may actually be considered a cybercriminal using photos, email and texts to pretend to be another person in a dating site, with a genuine goal of luring you into visiting a niche site laden with malware. The simplest way to avoid this is never to select links from anyone you do not know and trust.
12. Phony E-tailers
Just as charities are at the mercy of bogus imitations, so can be legitimate retailers. Be cautious before you give your credit card details, as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ special offer could become identity theft or a clear bank-account. Check names and websites carefully for subtle differences that may indicate you are on a fake website and limit your web shopping to trusted e-tailers.