Every year when the Holiday’s roll around things tend to get busier, everyone is more giving, and the shopping season ramps up to its peak. Unfortunately these aren’t the only things that increase during the holidays, criminals are out to take advantage of your holiday spirit. Check out our top five holiday scams to avoid this season.
In a perfect world when the holidays rolled around we would only need to worry about the warm apple cider, great decorations, and giving spirit. Unfortunately that’s not how it typically works out. All of those things and more are what makes this time of year my personal favorite, but it’s also the favorite for scammers. It’s very typical to see the amount of scam attempts rise by almost 10% at the end of the year.
Quick tips for avoiding all scams
- If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.
- Read carefully, scams almost always have improper grammar or spelling mistakes which you won’t normally see in a legitimate message.
- Check the email it was sent from, it will often be easy to spot that the email didn’t come from firstname.lastname@example.org for example.
- If you click a link and are taken to a page looking for personal information, turn around. No company will immediately request that information from you to get a deal.
Now we’re here, it’s finally time for the list. Lets get rolling:
5. Fake Charity Emails
There is no doubt that during the holidays we tend to give more as a society. We’re all feeling happier, and are more willing to spread the cheer during the “giving season.” Cyber criminals are always on top of their best chances to scam you out of money and may even try to do it using fake charity emails. These could come in looking to get donations out of you, and may appear to be legitimate at first. Make sure to read carefully through the emails and look for their typical mistakes (typos, poor grammar, etc.). To be extra careful, if you’re looking to donate to a charity that came from a suspicious email, open your browser and manually navigate to their website. Using this process you ensure you’re not being fooled by any fake webpages and can continue to spread holiday cheer!
4. Fake Shipping Notifications
This scam attempt is very popular at all times of the year, but even more so during the holiday season. We all tend to order more things online during the holidays which means UPS and FedEx are ramping up their deliveries to get all the packages out on time. Cyber criminals look to target this aspect by alerting you that your packages were not able to be delivered and you need to fill out forms with personal information to reschedule the delivery. As we all know, if UPS attempts to make a delivery and can’t they will leave a note on your door. You can also sign up for programs UPS and FedEx offer to monitor packages being sent to your address. This will allow you to skip over these shady emails and go right to your account to check a delivery status.
3. Black Friday or Cyber Monday Extravaganzas
We’re not the only ones who get overly excited for the steal of the year on that flat screen TV, cyber criminals look forward to Black Friday and Cyber Monday just like consumers. Cyber criminals have been preparing for this time of year and are often putting some serious dedication into their scams. In previous years entire “Black Friday Deals” websites have been created trying to lure customers into buying fake products on their fake website. These sites are showing even lower prices than normal stores are offering to try to prey on customers looking for the best deal wherever they can find it. Be sure to always purchase directly from retailers no matter what sites you see deals on.
2. Fake E-Greeting Cards
E-greeting cards are not something that really caught on as a popular trend but they’re still used as a cute way to spread some holiday cheer and happiness. They’re even sometimes sent out by businesses as a way to spread some cheer to customers and wish them a happy holidays. Because of this, criminals are out looking to take advantage of your holiday spirit and trick you into clicking their malicious links.
Sometimes these E-Greeting cards will come loaded with malware as an attachment (as a PC Matic customer this will be blocked easily), however they also may try to get you to give up personal information. This type of attack is focused on social engineering and will attempt to get you to enter personal information to win a “holiday contest”, or another silly excuse they come up with. Remember to avoid giving out personal information on the internet when possible, especially if it is solicited through a shady email or pop-up.
1. Fake Last Minute Shopping Deals
This year specifically be on the lookout for scams that could involve Wal-Mart or Amazon. They are two of the big powerhouses in retail store and online shopping, and cyber criminals see pretending to be them as an easy target. These scams could come in the form of last-minute sales or coupons that will often sound to good to be true. If you see a deal like this and want to see if it’s legitimate, go directly to Amazon.com or Walmart.com and see for yourself. If they’re emailing about a deal it will most likely be on the front page of their site.
Another way the criminals try to scam people with shopping related deals are free gift cards, that’s right FREE GIFT CARDS. They’ll often exclaim this offer in full caps to you in an email or malicious pop-up. A good rule of thumb for this one is no store is ever going to give you a free gift card for filling out a form with personal information. There are some instances where stores offer gift card deals with a purchase, these are legitimate and are often done by stores like Target.
If you’re a PC Matic customer, you can take advantage of the KnowBe4 security training that comes with your subscription. This training helps give you tips on phishing scams along with many other important security topics. If you need help accessing it, reach out to our customer support at pcpitstop.com/support.
Stay safe out there, and have a happy holiday season!