The holiday season may bring about vacation time from your job, but rest assured this is the time when cyber criminals are at their busiest. It is not uncommon for holiday shoppers to look for coupons via e-mail or text message. Here we will outline some of the most common scams of the holiday season.
1. Free iPad Offers
Emails that offer free iPads rank as the number one holiday scam. Consumers are asked to purchase other products with the offer of a free iPad. The victim, of course, never receives the iPad and is instead left to report a stolen credit card number.
2. "Help!" Scams
With so many family members and friends traveling, it isn't outrageous to assume that someone will need money. However, there is a travel scam that will send phony distress messages to family and friends to have money wired. If you receive a message like thisdo not respond to the e-mail. Contact them by phone to be certain.
3. Fake Gift Cards
Social media sites are used by scammers to promote fake gift card offers. The goal here is to steal your personal information. "One recent Facebook scam offered a 'free $1,000 Best Buy gift card" to the first 20,000 people who signed up for a Best Buy fan page, which was a lookalike. To apply for the gift card they had to provide personal information and take a series of quizzes."
4. Holiday Job Offers
For people that want a little extra cash for the holdiay season, a holiday job seems a perfect solution. Scammers use scoial media sites to promote high-paying, work-at-home jobs that ask for your personal information, such as your e-mail address, home address and Social Security number to apply for the fake job. It is imperative that you never click on these links or respond to these e-mails!
Smishing, simply put, is SMS (text messaging) phishing. These text messages appear to come from your bank or other source claiming that there is something wrong with your account. The scammers hope to get you to respond and provide personal information.
6. Suspicious Holiday Rentals
For those looking to get away for the holiday to some cabin in the mountains, cyber crooks have a scam for you too. It is during these peak travel times that scammers will post fake holiday rental sites that require a down payment via credit card or wire transfer. Don't always trust what is posted online. Call the location to see if the advertisement is legitimate.
7. Recession Scams
The holdiay season is a perfect time for credit schemes as well. Pay-in-advance credit schemes are some of the most common of these. McAfee Labs has seen a significant number of spam e-mails advertising pre-qualified, low-interest loans and credit cards if the recipient pays a processing fee, which goes directly into the scammer’s pocket.
8. Grinch-like Greetings
E-cards have made sending holiday cards to family and friends more affordable. Cyber criminals, however, can use this medium to send you links to computer viruses and other malware instead of that holiday cheer. If you click on these links, your computer may begin to run slowly and have the occasional pop up ad.
9. Low Price Traps
This is another one of those "too good to be true" scams. Fake auction sites are notorious for this. The scammer is essentially preying on those individuals looking for a good deal. Be sure the website you are on is an authentic secured site.
10. Charity Scams
This one is quite simple. The scammer simply calls you up and asks for money. They operate under the guile of a charity. E-mails are another form of common communication with these scams. Before you donate, verify the validity of the organization through their website or by calling the company directly.
11. Holiday Downloads
Want that cool Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer screen saver? How about that Jingle Bells alert for you e-mail notification? These holiday themed downloads are just another way for scammers to spread viruses and malware. Do not simply download something because it looks cool or cute!
12. Wi-Fi Vulnerabilities
This is an anytime risk with thieves who are savvy enough to hack into public networks used by hurried travelers. Hackers can steal credit card numbers, bank accounts and other forms of personal identity. Try not to access bank accounts or give your credit card number online while using public Wi-Fi. It's a good rule for every day — not just for the holidays.