Christmas is a time of giving, spending quality time with your loved ones and drinking eggnog by the fire. Aside from all this holiday goodness, Christmas is also the time for online scams. Based off of McAfee’s “Twelve Scams of Christmas”, here are a few things every online shopper should bear in mind before they begin their holiday online shopping.
Fake Gift Cards
Being wary of phony ads online is nothing new to the experienced Internet user. For those who are not as tech-savvy, the attractive offers occasionally flashing on the screen can be a trap. Many of these offers can be found on social media sites such as Facebook, packed full of phony quizzes offering users big prizes. Warning: Do not be fooled.
Why: A recent Facebook scam offered a “free $1,000 Best Buy gift card” to the first 20,000 people who signed up for a BestBuy fan page, a twin page of the original. People were directed to take an online quiz, put in all of their personal information to be eligible for the “$1,000 gift card” only to find it was all made up. Cyber thieves use social media to prop up these fake offers with the aim of stealing consumers’ information and money. When an awesome deal comes your way chances are, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
E-cards—we all love them! Not only are they extremely convenient to send, but they are also Mother Earth friendly. Lessening all this cheer are the fake e-cards being sent with links to computer viruses. When opening an e-card be careful, you may not detect something is off until it is too late.
Why: By loading up your computer with viruses and other malware, hackers are given full leeway to not only harm your computer, but also steal personal information (i.e. passwords and credit card info).
Bad Hotel and Airport Wi-fi
Throughout the holidays many travelers use free wi-fi in places like hotels and airports. Unfortunately, checking your email might cost you more than valuable beach time.
Why: Hotels and airports are ideal venues for hackers to enter into networks hoping to find opportunities for theft.
McAfee advises Internet users to follow these five tips to protect their computers and personal information:
1. Stick to well-established and trusted sites.
2. Do not respond to offers in your spam folder, text or instant messenger.
3. Never download or open a link from any mysterious source.
4. Stay far away from vendors that offer prices well below the norm. If it looks too good to be genuine, it probably is.
5. Don’t check your bank accounts or shop online if you’re not sure the wi-fi network is safe.
Charities have always been the target of scams, particularly during the holiday season. Although it is the time for giving, before you open your heart and bank account, you may want to do a little homework.
Why: Frequent ploys include phone calls and spam e-mails asking you to donate to veterans’ charities, children’s causes and relief funds for the latest catastrophe. Before donating to a charity, it is vital to do investigatory work and make sure the charity that you’re donating to is legitimately sound.
Unfortunately the holidays are a popular time for all sorts of scams, but if you keep your eyes open for any strange activity and keep these tips in mind you will have stay safe this holiday season.