(Victor Valley) – The holidays are just around the corner and amid the hustle and bustle many of us will fire up our devices to go online, order gifts, plan travel and spread cheer. But while we’re getting festive, the cybercriminals are getting ready to take advantage of our holiday connections to spread scams and malware.
With online holiday shopping expected to grow 12.1% in the US alone this year, to as much as $96 billion, and more people than ever using social media and mobile devices to connect, the cybercriminals have a lot of opportunities to spoil our fun. Using multiple devices provides the bad guys with more ways to access your valuable “digital assets,” such as personal information and files, especially if the devices are under-protected.
According to a McAfee global study commissioned by MSI International last year, consumers place an average value of $37,438 on the “digital assets” they own across multiple digital devices, yet more than a third lack protection across all of those devices.
So, as you head online this holiday season stay on guard and stay aware. Get familiar with the “12 Scams of Christmas” to ensure a safe and happy holiday season. Here are a few:
● Bogus gift cards—Gift cards are probably the perfect choice for a lot of people on your holiday list, and given their popularity, cybercriminals can’t help but want to get in on the action by offering bogus gift cards online.
TIP: Be wary of buying gift cards from third parties; it’s best to buy from the official retailer. Just imagine how embarrassing it would be to find out that the gift card you gave your mother-in-law was fraudulent!
● Holiday SMiShing — “SMiSishing” is phishing via text message. Just like with email phishing, 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. Since many of us like to keep a close eye on our bank accounts during the holidays, be wary of SMiShing messages that appear to come from your bank, asking you to verify information or visit a phony webpage.
TIP: Remember that real banks won’t ask you to divulge personal information via text message. If you have any questions about your accounts, you should contact your bank directly.
● Phony E-tailers–No matter what gift you’re looking for, chances are you can find it quickly and easily online, but you still want to be careful in selecting which site to shop. 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. But, after obtaining your money and information, you never receive the merchandise, and your personal information is put at risk.
This is exactly what happened to customers of harbourelectronics.com, a copycat site of electronics repair store harborelectronics.net. It turns out that harbourelectronics.com was one of a host of the bogus e-commerce sites coming from the same IP address.
TIP: That’s why it’s important to shop at trusted and well-known e-commerce sites. If you’re shopping on a site for the first time, check other users’ reviews and verify that the phone number listed on the site is legitimate.
For more scams to watch out for, visit McAfee Blog Central.