“The 12 Scams of Christmas”
Originally posted on WIBC.com on 12/23/2010:
McAfee is one of the worlds’ leading Internet security companies and they have come up with a list of what they call “The 12 Scams of Christmas” which we’ll go over here.
Christmas is the time of year when the public is most vulnerable because they are geared up to spend money and shop online. It would be good to heed the warnings and be aware of these potential but very real threats to your security online.
Be aware of the following popular scams for this holiday season and beyond.
1. Free iPad offers. This scam began as soon as Apple launched its’ new iPad. There are at least two versions of the scam: via email and social media.
Email: You are contacted via email that you have won a free iPad. You’re asked to buy something in order to get this free gift and what do you do? You provide them with your credit card details. No iPad appears and now you have to deal with a stolen credit card and hope like heck that you report it before there are charges on it you didn’t make.
Social Media: This is a little beauty. On your social media site you are asked to take a quiz to get your free iPad. Part of the deal is you need to enter your mobile or cell phone number which you do of course, being unaware that by doing this it will cost you $10.00 a month and…no iPad.
2. “Help, Help, I’ve been robbed!” The con-artist portraying the innocent traveler who has been robbed or mugged but now has no money or credit cards. This person will ask you for money with the promise to pay it back. Don’t believe that for one second! These con artists often tap into your social media accounts and send emails to your friends pretending to be you.
3. Phony gift cards. Again, social media sites are targeted by criminals who tempt you with an offer of a high dollar gift card for free. All you have to do is give them your contact details and maybe even credit card details, all for the sole purpose of identity theft.
Maybe you saw this one on Facebook recently. This scam offered a “free $1,000 Best Buy gift card” to the first 20,000 people who signed up for a Best Buy fan page”. This was a fake fan page. The victim had to apply for the gift card and some quizzes. Again, all your personal information is gone to the criminals.
4. Special job offers during the holidays. You need extra cash for the holidays so when you get an email with a special job offer which pays really well, of course you want it. What do you do? You give them your personal details like email address, home address, phone number etc. What do you get? Nothing but a stolen identity.
5. Phishing via SMS, now called “Smishing”. Just like the email versions, this scam is done by texting to your mobile phone. They pretend to be your bank or similar institution and claim there is something wrong with your account which you need to take care of right away. Just call this number to take care of it. DON’T return the call!
6. Holiday rental scams. Lots of people want to go away over the Christmas break. Here comes an offer of inexpensive rentals and you jump at the chance. These are fake sites and fake holiday rentals. You’ve been scammed again.
7. The recession offers new opportunities for scammers. Here they take advantage of those least able to deal with it. People who are suffering in the financial crisis with loans and mortgages get approached by these crooks who offer low interest loans to help them out. All it will cost you is a small processing fee. You guessed it…right into the pockets of the scammers.
8. E-cards. Cheap, clever and convenient. Lots of people like to send and receive E-cards, so what’s the big deal? The cyber crimes put viruses and malware on fake versions of these cards and then sends them out. They may even send them to your friends, pretending that they come from you.
9. Auctions and bogus classifieds. These guys make you offers on things that are too good to be true. In return you give up your credit card details and you get nothing in return but headaches.
10. Scams disguised as charities. Who doesn’t have a soft spot in their hearts this time of year and the scammers are fully aware of this. You may begin getting phone calls and emails asking for donations for one cause or another. Especially if there has recently been a disaster. Make a donation to help these unfortunate people and the money goes into the scammers wallets.
11. Screen savers, jingles, etc. designed for the holidays. If you download them, they are often full of viruses and malware.
12. Public WiFi. The holiday season is often the biggest time for travelers who use airports, hotels, trains and buses. Scammers know you will want to check your emails so they will tap into the public wifi. They will do their best to access your personal information by hacking. Whatever you do, refrain from using your credit card or bank from a public wifi. And, if you visit a site where you need to login, be sure to log off when you are done.
If you stay alert for the 12 Scams of Christmas, you will certainly enjoy the 12 Days of Christmas.