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How to Avoid Common Holiday Scams

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How to Avoid Common Holiday Scams

Do you know how to spot the latest common holiday scams? Amazon sent an email claiming that the account had been hacked, but it was a scam. Fraudsters scammed over $18,000 from a shopper. Stories like this are more common during the holiday shopping season. Over $6.9 billion was lost to fraudsters, including $337 million in online shopping and non-delivery scams, according to the FBI.

The holidays are a fun, but busy and stressful time. We’re getting work done to have some fun, and hosting family and friends. It’s a lot, and when you have so much going on, you’re more likely to fall for cyber scams that can lead to data theft.

Hackers take advantage of the holiday shopping season to trick you with tempting holiday scams that are hard to resist. They’ll use social engineering to get you to give them your data or download their malware. Here’s how to avoid holiday scams:

Parcel delivery scams

More people are expecting packages this time of year. Cyber criminals take advantage of this with what’s called a smishing scam. It’s a type of common popular holiday scam using text/SMS messaging. You receive a message telling you a delivery needs rescheduling, or that there’s an outstanding fee that needs to be paid.

Recipients, who are already expecting a package, are quick to fall for the request. Clicking on the message link, they enter personal information or download malicious software.

Tip: Instead of clicking on a link, navigate to the source of the package you’re expecting and check the status.

E-card scams

Another common holiday season scam takes advantage of our enthusiasm for money. Scammers send e-cards to your email. When you click on the link, you’ll download malware or ransomware.

Tip: Check the credibility of any e-card sender before downloading the “gift.”

Christmas hamper scams

Everyone likes to win free things, but don’t fall for the scammer calling or emailing to say you’ve won a Christmas hamper. They’ll claim to be from a legit organization and already have some of your personal information, which helps make it all seem legitimate. They’ll ask for more personal details to collect your prize or gift.

They may ask only for your full name, address, and phone number (if the request was emailed). The purpose it to collect this information for a more focused attack in the near future.

Tip: Use strong passwords and be careful about what personal details you put on social media.

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Fake websites

Many people are looking for unique gifts or deals and shop on websites that are unfamiliar to them during the holiday shopping season. Cyber criminals will set up fake online stores offering gifts and services. They’re looking to get your personal details and money.

Tip: Use secure website addresses starting with “https” and displaying a locked padlock.

Shopping scams

Every season has its high demand products. Criminals take advantage of this and set up ads for amazing deals on those items. Desperate to complete your shopping, you might be hooked click by ads offering ridiculous deals. If you do get the item purchased via these ads, it’s likely to be counterfeit or a complete scam just to get your personal information.

Tip: Shop with retailers you know and trust.

Bank scams

This scam operates year-round, but bad actors have an edge in the holiday season, when people spend more. Fraudsters typically call, text, or email as your bank having noticed suspicious activity. They get you feeling nervous and then urge you to click a link or share personal details to address the issue.

Tip: Remember that banks never use unsolicited calls to ask for personal details, pressure you to give information, or tell you to move your money to a safe account.

Be Careful How You Pay

  • Never wire money directly to a seller. Use a service such as PayPal.
  • Avoid paying for items with pre-paid gift cards. In these scams, a seller will ask you to send them a gift card number and PIN
  • Use a credit card when shopping online and check your statement regularly

Don’t Use Your Work Computer

If you are using your work devices for holiday shopping, they could be putting your organization at risk of a cyber-attack. Nearly half of people have admitted to falling for some kind of online scam.

It’s easily done. Maybe you’ve clicked a link in a phishing email. That’s an email that looks like it’s from a person or brand you trust… but actually it’s from criminals. Or you clicked on a social media offer that was too good to be true.

Avoid the risk of being the cause of a breach in your organization and do not use company devices for personal online shopping.

Protecting Yourself This Season

The tips shared throughout this article will help. At the same time, setting up password managers, antivirus software, blocking malicious links and websites will also help. We can help you secure your online activity year-round. Contact us today at 416-900-6852 or click here.


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