HO. HO. HO. That isn’t Santa’s wish for a Merry Christmas in your inbox. It’s a Holiday scam just waiting for a click or two. The bad guys are getting very creative at what they do, so be vigilant, or be sorry!
- Fake Invoices. A click leads you to ransomware or a phishing page
- Fake Shipping Notifications. A click means virus infection or worse
- Fake Email Deals. Unexpected deals or product promotions from companies you aren’t aware of could be phishing or an order you’ll never receive – nor the cash you used to buy it.
- Fake Surveys. The surveys can be benign. It’s the personal questions at the end that can lead to trouble.
- Online Links, Popups, and URLs. Caution is the byword all year, but especially key during the holiday season. Make sure you are comfortable with the link or URL you are visiting and beware unrealistic deals.
- Shopping: Buy only from trusted, secure sites. Look for the https:// in the URL and when entering credit information – the lock icon.
- Online Surveys & Downloads. Never give out the personal information often requested at the end of the survey.
Smartphone App Scams:
A fertile field for compromise and getting lots of interest from the evil ones. A seemingly harmless app can not only give access to personal information, but take over your entire phone, install ransomware, or brick it.
Use trusted games and apps, check reviews, and avoid the alternative app marketplace unless you are sure of the download results.
Beware those vouchers and gift cards, even if from someone you know. Many are designed to phish your personal information via, say, a survey. The “Secret Sister Gift Exchange is back this year – illegal and risky – a digital version of the old chain letter scheme.
The FBI recommends these additional steps
to avoid becoming a victim of fraud:
- Check bank and credit card statements routinely, including immediately after making an online purchase and weeks following the holiday season.
- Only purchase merchandise from a reputable source.
- Don’t trust a website to be secure just because it claims to be.
- Do not respond to spam e-mails or click on links contained within them.
- Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mails that ask for personal information.
- Be cautious of all e-mail attachments and scan them for viruses before opening.
- Verify requests for personal information from businesses or financial institutions by contacting them using the main contact information on their official website.
- Be cautious when dealing with individuals outside of your country.
The FBI also warns consumers to make sure all your accounts — banking, credit, airlines, and rewards — are equipped with strong passwords, and that you use different passwords for each of your various accounts
How to report fraud: Consumers who suspect they’ve been victimized should immediately contact their financial institution and then law enforcement. They are also encouraged to file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center regardless of dollar amount lost, and provide all relevant information regarding the complaint.