In wishing each of you a very joyful holiday season, here are 12 things we hope you don’t ever encounter.
Just a few things to be aware of always, but especially during the holiday season…
Beware of scammers, identity thieves, and criminal hackers during the holiday season. So, whether you are using a PC, Mac or mobile device, be on the lookout for these scams:
- Mobile Malware & Mobile Applications: McAfee cites a 76% increase in malware targeting Android devices making it the most targeted smartphone platform. New malware has recently been found that targets digital barcodes that consumers might scan with their smartphones to find good deals. Mobile apps disguised as games and designed to steal information from smartphones, or to send out expensive text messages without a user’s consent.
- Skimming: You may already know that it’s important to protect your financial information when you shop online. But a high-tech threat can steal your credit card information when you’re out shopping around town. Scammers can steal your ATM or credit card information without your even noticing with skimmers. Credit card skimmers are devices that thieves place over the actual card readers on an ATM, credit card terminal or gas pump to collect your financial information and are getting increasingly more common. Take a careful look at an ATM before you use it. Be suspicious if something looks like it’s sticking out too far or if it doesn’t match with the rest of the machine’s design. Many skimmers are fairly shoddy pieces of equipment that are weakly tacked onto to the card reader. You shouldn’t be afraid to get physical. Before you insert or swipe your card, give the reader a good tug, or jostle your card around the slot to see if anything is loosely attached.
- Scareware: This fake antivirus software deceives recipients into believing their computers are at risk, or have already been infected, so that they will agree to download and pay for phony software.
- Holiday Screensavers: A Santa screensaver that promises to let you “fly with Santa in 3D” is malicious. Holiday ringtones and e-cards have also been known to be malicious, too.
- Android & Mac Malware: Security firm Sophos has declared 2012 the year where PC malware has been pushed from the limelight and replaced by Android and Mac malware. Android has been called “today’s biggest target,” and noted that the most common malware is fake apps that steal money by sending expensive messages to premium rate SMS services. Sophos detecting some 4,900 types of OS X malware in a typical week.
- Delivery Scam: Expecting a delivery? It might not be unusual to get a card on your door to notify you of an unsuccessful delivery attempt which directs you to call for more details. When you call the number, you get a recorded message, or are kept on hold for 15-20 minutes. You don’t realize it, but turns out, you just called a foreign country, and you’re on long distance waiting for ten, twenty minutes for someone to come back on. And now you’re going to get a thousand dollar plus phone bill.
- Holiday Job Offers: Many people are trying to make extra cash for the holiday season which puts them at risk for fake work at home schemes and fake job postings. Many of these jobs ask for your social security number which puts you at risk for identity theft.recipients into revealing personal information.
- Online Coupon Scams: Consumers accept an offer for an online coupon code, and provide personal information, including credit card details, passwords, and other financial data.
- Fake Charities: Avoid giving money to charities until you’ve researched them first. If they come to your door or approach you in a mall parking lot, ask for credentials and information and explain that you’ll consider donating later. Check with the Office of Consumer Affairs which usually maintains a list of registered charities.
- Hotel “Wrong Transaction” Malware Emails: Scammers have designed travel-related scams in order to tempt users to click on dangerous emails that download malware to the victim’s machine.
- “It Gift” Scams: When a gift is popular, scammers advertise these gifts on rogue websites and social networks, even if they don’t actually have the popular items. i.e. iPad, iPhone, wii U scams.
- “Away From Home” Status Updates: Using posting information about your vacation on social networking sites, thieves decide it’s a good time to rob you.
Here’s hoping that each of you has a very happy, safe and scam-free holiday season!