[image via: Thinkstock]
The holiday season is a special and joyous time of the year to spend time with loved ones and celebrate the Spirit of Christmas. Unfortunately, this is the time when scammers prey on unsuspecting consumers and their holiday spirit, busy schedules, and generosity.
To help consumers stay alert for greedy Grinches as they surf the web for holiday travel deals and seek out gifts for their loved ones, here is a list of this year’s top scams of Christmas:
Common Christmas Scams
1) Not-So-Merry Mobile Apps
Official-looking software for holiday shopping, including those that feature celebrity or company endorsements, could be malicious, designed to steal or send out your personal data. Criminals can redirect incoming calls and messages, offering them the chance to bypass two-step authentication systems, where the second step involves sending a code to a mobile device.
2) Holiday Mobile SMS Scams
FakeInstaller tricks Android users into thinking it is a legitimate installer for an application and then quickly takes advantage of the unrestricted access to smartphones, sending SMS messages to premium rate numbers without the user’s consent.
3) Hot Holiday Gift Scams
Advertisements that offer deals on must-have items, such as PS4 or Xbox One, might be too good to be true. Clever crooks will post dangerous links and phony contests on social media sites and send phishing emails to entice viewers to reveal personal information or download malware onto their devices.
4) Seasonal Travel Scams
Phony travel deal links and notifications are common, as are hackers waiting to steal your identity upon arrival. When logging into an infected PC with an email username and password, scammers can install keylogging spyware, key-catching hardware, and more. A hotel’s Wi-Fi may claim that you need to install the software before using it and instead infect your computer with malware if you “agree.”
5) Dangerous E-Seasons Greetings
Legitimate-looking e-cards wishing friends “Season’s Greetings” can cause unsuspecting users to download “Merry Malware,” such as a Trojan or other virus, after clicking a link or opening an attachment.
6) Shipping Notifications Shams
Phony shipping notifications can appear to be from a mailing service alerting you to an update on your shipment when in reality, they are scams carrying malware and other harmful software designed to infect your computer or device.
7) Bogus Gift Cards
An easy go-to gift for the holidays, gift cards can be promoted via deceptive ads, especially on Facebook, Twitter, or other social sites, that claim to offer exclusive deals on gift cards or packages of cards and can lead consumers to purchase phony ones online.
8) Holiday SMiShing
During the holidays, SMiShing is commonly seen in gift card messages, where scammers pose as banks or credit card companies asking you to confirm information for “security purposes”. Some even include the first few digits of your credit card number in the SMS message to fool you into a false sense of safety.
9) Fake Charities
Donating to charities is common this time of year for many looking to help the less fortunate. However, cybercriminals capitalize on this generosity, especially during natural disaster events, and set up fake charity sites and pocket the donations.
10) Romance Scams
With so many niche dating sites now available to Internet users, it can be difficult to know exactly who the person is behind the screen. Many messages sent from an online friend can include phishing scams, where the person accesses your personal information, such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details.
11) Look-a-like Websites
Recreating a website with a familiar logo is easy, so beware when shopping online. Some red flags are the webpage is in HTTP format, not the secure HTTPS, no contact information, and even asking for payment by wire or money card.
12. Bad Public Wi-Fi
While Wi-Fi is convenient, it does have risks. Never turn off your firewall, and make sure your antivirus is up to date whenever you are connected to public Wi-Fi. Scammers are after your money and your identity. Never use public Wi-Fi when you go on social media sites, especially when you use online banking.
[via: McAfee 12 Scams of Christmas]