McAfee has released its top 12 internet scams to watch out for for this Christmas holiday season. According to McAfee, online Christmas shopping is expected to grow 12.1 percent in the US alone this year to as much as $96 billion. Yet, even though consumers tend to own multiple smart devices, a third lack protection across all of those devices. McAfee also has their “12 Scams of Christmas” to watch out for during the holidays.
Social Media Scams — Scammers use Twitter and Facebook. Friend’s accounts can get hacked so watch for fake alerts that install “holiday deal” apps that steal private data. Twitter ads can lead to fake websites that look authentic but then ask for your credit card information.
Malicious Mobile Apps — An estimated 33 percent of apps ask for more information than they need such as access to your contacts or location. Be careful to check reviews on the smartphone’s store because a malicious app may be designed to steal your information or even send out premium-rate text messages without your knowledge.
Travel Scams — Phony travel webpages with beautiful pictures and rock-bottom prices are used to get you to hand over your financial details. The FBI recently warned travelers of a hotel Wi-Fi scam in which a malicious pop-up ad prompts computer users to install a popular software product before connecting to their hotel Wi-Fi.
Holiday Spam/Phishing — Spam emails will take on holiday themes advertising cheap Rolex watches and pharmaceuticals. Never click on the included links.
The New iPad, iPhone 5, And Other Hot Holiday Gift Scams — Phony ads and contests for the latest products will install malware or attempt to steal information.
Skype Message Scare — There is a new Skype message scam that attempts to infect computers and even hold your files for ransom. The threat appears as a Skype instant message with the scam line “Lol is this your new profile pic?”. 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 their files.
Bogus Gift Cards — Scammers will get you to “purchase” fraudulent gift cards that will not work.
Holiday SMiShing — “SMiSishing” is phishing via text message. The scammer tries to lure you into revealing information or performing an action you normally wouldn’t do by pretending to be a legitimate organization. Be wary of text messages that supposedly come from your bank and want you to verify personal information or visit a website.
Phony E-tailers – Phony e-commerce sites, that appear real, try to lure you into typing in your credit card number and other personal details, often by promoting great deals. For example, electronics repair store harborelectronics.net had a copycat store at harborelectronics.com that stole their credit cards.
Fake Charities — Scammers will copycat real charities such as the Red Cross. One man ran a bogus charity for the “U.S. Navy Veterans Association” and gathered $2 million from donors over five years!
Dangerous e-Cards — Most e-cards are safe, but there are some that will install trojan viruses. Make sure your family members are actually sending you e-cards and that the e-card comes from a well known legitimate source.
Phony Classifieds — Phony offers ask for too much personal information or ask you to wire funds via Western Union. If you’re going to purchase an item or apply for a job, try to do it in person in a public place. Pay in cash and never agree to pay for an item before receiving it.
Remember to have some sort of antivirus or anti-malware installed not only on your computer but also on your tablet or smartphone. These tips for discovering common internet scams should help you during the holiday shopping season. Merry Christmas!