Online Buyers Beware

Cyber Criminals Primed to Dash that Holiday Cheer

‘Tis the season to be busy: shopping, cooking, decorating, wrapping—and more shopping. Shopping is different than it was a decade, and even a year ago. Consumers no longer need to leave the comfort of their homes, cars or offices to purchase gifts. Instead, they increasingly shop from anywhere with their computers, smartphones and tablets.

Photo credit: Selimaksan via istockphoto.com

Photo credit: Selimaksan via istockphoto.com

As you gear up for your holiday shopping, cybercriminals are ramping up their criminal activity, too. During this hustle-and-bustle season of merriment, take steps to arm yourself with awareness and knowledge to keep your ho-ho-holidays happy.

Adobe Digital Index recently released its annual holiday shopping predictions, forecasting that online sales will surge to a record $83 billion, an increase of 11 percent over last year.

The National Retail Federation is even more optimistic, predicting online holiday sales will reach $105 billion.

What a glorious forecast for cyber criminals!

Following is list of 12 Scams of the Holidays, published in 2014 by McAfee Security, a security technology company that provides solutions and services that protect consumers, small businesses and enterprises from the latest malware and online threats. Read them, learn them, and live them to help keep the “bah humbugs” at bay.

  1. You’ve Got Mail!—Think twice before clicking links in shipping notification emails, and always verify the shipping company before giving out personal information.
  2. Deceptive Advertising—Beware of deals that are too good to be true as stealing your personal information could ruin your holiday cheer.
  3. Chilling Charities—During this season of giving and donating, be wary of fake charities. Do your research and double-check site URLs.
  4. Buyer Beware—Check your credit card statement to ensure you don’t have unwanted charges as a result of point-of-sale breach.
  5. iScams—Today’s smartphones double as credit cards, house keys, cameras, and more. Malware can access your device via apps, so do your research and stick to official app stores to download.
  6. Getting Carded—Avoid the unwanted gift of malware, and always verify that e-cards are from someone you know and are from a trustworthy site.
  7. Holiday Travel Scams—Avoid fake online deal links offering low-price airfare or hotel rooms that could be a trap. Think before you click.
  8. Bank Robocall Scam—Be suspicious of phone calls from people who claim your computer is infected and request your personal information to fix it.
  9. ATM Skimming—Need cash in a hurry? Beware using automated teller machines (ATMs) as a skimmer device designed to steal data from a card may be installed. Look carefully at the ATM, and cover the keypad when entering your PIN.
  10. Year in Review Traps—While a “Year in Review” sounds entertaining to read, clicking on these links could infect your devices.
  11. BYO…Device—Smartphones could easily be lost in the holiday shuffle. Don’t leave your smartphone unattended as it could give hackers access to your personal and work information.
  12. Bad USB Blues—Be wary of free USB drives that are often used as giveaways. This method is an easy way for hackers to spread malware

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