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Shop Safely Online But Watch for this Season’s ‘Twelve Scams’

by ‎11-19-2010 01:08 PM - edited ‎11-19-2010 01:28 PM

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Though the holidays are filled with great food, good company and fantastic sales, Verizon and McAfee want to remind you to be smart and safe online during the holiday season.

 

So, as you head online to book travel and do your shopping, McAfee has compiled “The Twelve Scams of Christmas,” the most dangerous online scams to be aware of this holiday season:

 

1)       iPad Offer Scams: In the spam version of the scam, consumers think they’re getting a free iPad when they purchase other products. Of course, victims never receive the iPad or the other items, just the headache of reporting a stolen credit card number. In the social media version of the scam, users take a quiz to win a free iPad and must supply their cell phone number to receive the results. In actuality, they are signed up for a cell phone scam that costs $10 a week.


2)       “Help! I’ve Been Robbed” Scam: This travel scam sends phony distress messages to family and friends requesting that money be wired or transferred so that they can get home. McAfee Labs has seen an increase in this scam and predicts its rise during the busy travel season.


3)       Fake Gift Cards: Cybercrooks use social media to promote fake gift card offers with the goal of stealing consumers’ information and money. One recent Facebook 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, which was a look-a-like. To apply for the gift card they had to provide personal information and take a series of quizzes.


4)       Holiday Job Offers: As people seek extra cash for gifts this holiday season, Twitter scams offer dangerous links to high-paying, work-at-home jobs that ask for your personal information, such as your email address, home address and Social Security number to apply for the fake job.


5)       “Smishing”: Cybercrooks are now “smishing,” or sending phishing SMS texts. These texts appear to come from your bank or an online retailer saying that there is something wrong with an account and you have to call a number to verify your account information. In reality, these efforts are merely a ruse to extract valuable personal information from the targets. 


6)       Suspicious Holiday Rentals: During peak travel times when consumers often look online for affordable holiday rentals, cybercrooks post fake holiday rental sites that ask for down payments on properties by credit card or wire transfer.


7)       Recession Scams Continue: Scammers target vulnerable consumers with recession- related scams such as pay-in-advance credit schemes. McAfee Labs has seen a significant number of spam emails advertising prequalified, low-interest loans and credit cards if the recipient pays a processing fee, which goes directly into the scammer’s pocket.


8)       Grinch-like Greetings: E-cards are a convenient and earth-friendly way to send greetings to friends and family, but cybercriminals load fake versions with links to computer viruses and other malware instead of cheer. According to McAfee Labs, computers may start displaying obscene images, pop-up ads, or even start sending cards to contacts that appear to come from you.


9)       Low Price Traps: Shoppers should be cautious of products offered at prices far below competitors. Cyber scammers use auction sites and fake websites to offer too-good-to-be-true deals with the goal of stealing your money and information.


10)   Charity Scams: The holidays have historically been a prime time for charity scams since it’s a traditional time for giving, and McAfee Labs predicts that this year is no exception. Common 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.


11)    Dangerous Holiday Downloads: Holiday-themed screensavers, jingles and animations are an easy way for scammers to spread viruses and other computer threats especially when links come from an email or IM that appears to be from a friend.


12)   Hotel and Airport Wi-fi: During the holidays many people travel and use free Wi-Fi in places like hotels and airports. This is a tempting time for thieves to hack into networks hoping to find opportunities for theft.  

 

The best way to guard against these threats is to stick to well-established and trusted sites and never respond, download or click anything from an unknown source. You can read some more tips from Tracy Mooney, McAfee’s Chief Cyber Security Mom.

 

From Verizon and McAfee, stay smart and happy holidays.

 

Verizon at Home Blog
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About The Authors

Bob Elek

Manager - Media Relations

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Bob stays on top of developments and issues with Verizon’s Consumer and Mass Business segment from his home base in Florida. He has been involved with FiOS since it was first being developed and deployed in 2004.

Alberto Canal

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Alberto is in the public relations group. He loves to share tech, sustainability, feel-good, and random news of interest. A happy FiOS quad play customer, he likes to use his family as guinea pigs.

Deidre Hart

Manager -- Media Relations

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Deidre is a member of the consumer PR team and loves to talk everything FiOS and everything football. She’s also a happy Triple Play customer.

Phil Santoro

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Phil has been extolling the virtues of FiOS ever since he had his Triple Play installed and can’t image how he ever managed without it. He writes about developing technologies that enable him to fuel his addiction to movies and sports whenever he wants, no matter where he is.

Caroline Wilson

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Caroline manages the Verizon FiOS Google+ page, capturing the latest in entertainment, technology, sports and everything in between. She loves using social media and the written word to extend the FiOS conversation.

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