This has been a banner year for scammers, fraudsters, and hackers, starting with the largest credit card breach in history, and culminating in a security breach affecting almost every employee and contractor affiliated with the federal government over the past 10 years. In keeping with spirit of the season, a wide array of smaller scams have been targeting shoppers during the holidays. Here are some notable scams to look out for…
The Grinch E-Card Greetings
Happy Holidays. Your email has an attachment that looks like an e-greeting card, pretty pictures and all. You think that this must be from a friend… Nope. Malicious e-cards are sent by the millions. Never open these attachments at work, as they might infect your workstation.
The Fake Gift Card Trick
Internet crooks promote a fake gift card through social media but what they really are after is your information, which they then sell to other cyber criminals who use it for identity theft. Here is an example: A Facebook scam offering a complimentary 1,000 dollar Best Buy gift card to the first 20,000 people who sign up for a Best Buy fan page, which is a malicious copy of the original.
The Charity Tricksters
The holidays are traditionally the time for giving. It’s also the time that cyber criminals try to pry money out of people that mean well. But making donations to the wrong site could mean you are funding cybercrime or even terrorism. So, watch out for any communications from charities that ask for your contribution, (phone, email, text, and tweets) and make sure they are legit. It’s a good idea to contact the charity to make sure the request did in fact come from them. It is safest to only donate to charities you already know, and refuse all the rest.
“Too Good To Be” True Black Friday Deals
Black Friday and Cyber Monday were the busiest on-line shopping days, but the bad guys are still out there, trying to get rich with your money. Don’t buy anything that seems too good to be true.
Complimentary Apple Watch
Watch out for the too-good-to-be-true coupons that offer complimentary watches, phones, or tablets on sites all over the Internet. Don’t fall for it. Make sure the offers are from a legitimate company.
Photoshop for less than $200
With constant pressure to cut costs, we’ve seen middle managers attempt to purchase expensive software at a deep discount only to learn that the software is pirated and needs to be activated with an illegal activation key generator. When purchasing software, take care make ensure you are dealing with a credible vendor, and that your connection to their website is encrypted with a valid certificate.
Watch out for alerts via email or text that you just received a package from FedEx, UPS or the US Mail, and then asks you for some personal information. Don’t enter anything. Think Before You Click.
There is a fake refund scam going on that could come from Amazon, a hotel, or a retail chain. It claims there was a “wrong transaction” and wants you to “click for refund” but instead, your device will be infected with malware.
You tweet about a holiday gift you are trying to find, and you get a direct message (DM) from another twitter user offering to sell you one. Stop – Look – Think, because this could very well be a sophisticated scam. If you do not know that person, be very careful before you continue and never pay up front.
The Extra Holiday-Money Fraud
People always need some extra money during this season, so cyber fraudsters are offering work-from-home scams. The most innocent of these make you fill out a form where you give out confidential information like your Social Security number which will get your identity stolen. The worst of them offer you work where you launder money from a cyberheist which can get you into major trouble.
The Evil Wi-Fi Twin
If you bring your laptop/tablet/smartphone to the mall to scout for gifts and check if you get it cheaper somewhere online. But the bad guys are there too, shopping for your credit card number. They put out a Wi-Fi signal that looks just like a complimentary one you always use. Choose the wrong Wi-Fi and the hacker now sits in the middle and steals your credit card data while you buy online. When you use a Wi-Fi connection in a public place, it is better not to use your credit card.