Tis the season…. for scams
Many of us associate the end of the year as a time of thanks and giving. But it’s also a time of taking, as scammers and criminals get into the holiday spirit (maliciously, of course). Stay alert this time of year!
Common Holiday Scams to be on the lookout for
- Fake Receipts and Invoices – One of the more popular ways of using phishing to sneak malware past IT security measures is to hide the malicious code in an attachment. With so many people doing most or all of their holiday shopping online, there is a noticeable increase in the number of invoices, receipts, and order confirmations popping up in everyone’s inboxes.
- Fake Shipping Status Alerts – Much like phony invoices, fake shipping notifications and updates are finding their way into unsuspecting users’ inboxes. This particular phishing method can often be more effective, as it relies not on a fake purchase, but on making the user worry that there is a problem with a purchase they know they’ve made. A notice from “UPS” letting you know your package is delayed is bound to get a click-through from a user who is, in fact, expecting a delivery via UPS.
- Fake Online Gifts (E-Gift Cards, Money Orders, etc) – Nowadays, people often send their holiday greetings via email rather than through the post office. But don’t click on it if you don’t recognize the sender. It might be another phishing scam, aimed at getting you to provide more personal details.
- Fake Email Deals/ Flyers –Be cautious of unexpected deals or product promotions from stores or sellers you have never dealt with. Always take a few extra seconds to hover your mouse over any link that finds its way into your inbox. The hyperlink may look legitimate, but the link itself may tell a completely different story.
- Fake Customer Surveys – Online surveys offering cash or gift cards as a reward for completing them can often end up being a scam. The difference between a legitimate offer from a legitimate business and a phishing attempt is often those last few questions. If a survey asks for personal or financial information, it’s extremely likely that the survey is a cybercriminal’s way of stealing your identity or setting up a more advanced phishing scam.
Shopping Online Safety Tips
- Scammers can create bogus websites intended to steal information or sell knockoff inferior products. Only buy products from reputable sellers and websites.
- Before entering in credit card or other personal information, double-check that the URL at the top of your screen correlates to the website you are trying to buy items from.
- Be suspicious if an especially good deal ends up in your inbox. Think before you click! If a deal seems too good to be true, search elsewhere.