Top 12 Scams of the 2012 Holiday Season
Consumers are not the only ones getting ready for the holiday season. Cyber criminals are excited and prepared for the shopping season too. They have been preparing for months. Whether you are going to shop, book travel arrangements or pay your bills don't let cyber criminals ruin your holiday cheer. Stay abreast of recent malware and virus scams and make sure your mobile devices are secure.
According to McAfree online holiday shopping is expected to grow 12.1% in the United States alone this year. As much as $96 billion will be spent online during the holiday season this year. Consumers use more than their desktop computer to shop. They use their laptop, smartphone, iPads, etc. Using multiple devices provides cyber criminals more opportunities to attack and steal. In a number of cases it's our own fault that our information was divulged. We simply do not protect our mobile devices. McAfee states that more than a third of mobile devices lack protection. That is a staggering number when you consider a third of $96 billion.
Here are McAfee's 12 Scams of Christmas:
1. Social Media Scams - Be careful when you are chatting with your friends and family online because we're not all your friends.
2. Malicious Mobile Apps - Being app crazy may hurt you. Make sure to pay close attention to permissions. You may be allowing vendors to gather personal information about and your buying habits.
3. Travel Scam - Be leery of deals too good to be true. Rock bottom prices may only be the beginning of the cost of your trip. TIP: Remember to perform a security software update before traveling, to guard you against the latest scams.
4. Holiday Spam/Phishing - Be careful when you receive an e-mail or text promoting the hard to find Christmas item. They may entice you into providing personal information to put you on the waiting list.
5. The new iPad, iPhone 5, and other hot holiday gift scams - Phony giveaways and contests to grab your attention. Once again they are trying to get you to give away your personal information.
6. Skype Message Scare - A new threat for Skype users this season. The instant message line of "lol is this your new profile pic?". This new scam attempts to infect your machine, and even hold your files for ransom. If you click on the included link, a Trojan downloads onto your hard drive, blasts the dangerous link to all of your contacts, and can even try to extort money from some PC users to regain access to your files.
7. Bogus Gift Cards - Cyber criminals cannot wait to sell you a worthless gift card.
8. Holiday SMiShing - 'SMiShing" is text message phishing. Especially be wary of text messages that appear to be coming from our bank. Do NOT divulge any information via text message or by linking to a fraudulent Web page.
9. Phony E-tailers - If you are going to shop online make sure you shop at a trusted e-store. Saving a dollar or two may cost you a lot more than that. If it's the first time you've shopped with the vendor make sure to check reviews and verify the site is legitimate.
10. Fake Charities - Unfortunately charity scams are HUGE during the holiday season. Cyber criminals have no problem taking advantage of others being thoughtful and kind. The best advice is to go directly to the Web site of the charity you wish to contribute to and make sure the charity is legitimate before going to the site.
11. Dangers e-cards - A recent trend of sending holiday e-cards instead of paper cards started a few years ago. In most cases the cards are legitimate. There are several free and paid sites that send cards on the behalf of a friend or family member. Again be sure the company that is sending you the card is a legitimate e-card business and that you know the individual sending you the card.
12. Phony Classifieds - We all love getting that great deal or getting that much needed part-time job to help pay for holiday items, but you need to be careful to not give out personal information or credit card information. Don't purchase from someone wanting funds via Western Union. Anytime you need to share information or funds do it in a public place in the daylight and take someone along with you.
Visit McAfee's Top 12 Scams Of Christmas To Watch Out For for a detailed report of protecting yourself against scams not only during the holiday season, but 12 months of the year.