How To Avoid Holiday Scams
Jingle Bells or Jingle Hell?
Mince pies, mulled wine, twinkling fairy lights everywhere… who can possibly feel cynical once the holiday cheer kicks in?
Unfortunately, not everyone joins in with the festive goodwill. In fact, hack attacks, viruses, and other malware releases tend to spike around Christmas, while everyone’s in far too good a mood to pay attention. Many actually seize on the season by using holiday branding to disguise dangerous downloads and trick people into making terrible mistakes.
How do you make sure you don’t get sucked in by a seasonal scam? Read on, and we’ll show you. It’s our holiday gift to you.
Hot Holiday Bargains
Hoping to pick up a great Black Friday deal? Working hard to stretch the pennies as far as you can and really treat the kids this Christmas? Who isn’t?! The trouble is, scammers know this – and they’re ready and set to use your optimism to their own advantage.
With all these deliveries coming through, pay extra attention to any emails that say they are from FedEx, UPS or other delivery companies. Phishing attacks spike at this time of year, and they may not be legit. Also maintain a healthy suspicion of anyone online that’s offering vouchers for otherwise-expensive free gifts like watches, PlayStations and the like. If it sounds too good to be true… well, you know how the rest of that sentence goes.
Don’t click any links, download any files or hand over any data if you have the merest inkling that something seems amiss.
The Wrong Round Robins
Christmas e-cards are still going strong, but be cautious about what you open. In some cases, these can turn out to be viruses, and often when an account is hacked it will send the same fake e-card to everyone in your contacts list or address book, spreading the damage far and wide.
The same goes for other festive-branded round robins landing in your inbox. Remember the Sexy Mrs. Santa Striptease video a few years ago? Yes, that turned out to be malware.
Beware, too, things like links to Christmas themed Facebook videos that then send you a pop-up telling you that you need to update your flash or other video player in order to view the video. You could be downloading something completely different – meaning that you just gave a virus permission to install on your computer. Oops!
Ad poisoning became a big problem in 2015 and are likely to be again this holiday season. This is when hackers fool ad networks into believing that they are genuine retailers, but when you click on the link, it turns out to be malicious and installs something nasty on your device – such as ransomware, which you then have to pay hundreds of dollars to remove.
Be cautious about what you click on and, for extra security, change your Adobe Flash Player to “click to play” mode, avoiding automatic infestation. Also make sure that you are fully up to date with all security patches and updates.
Did You Buy That?
Firing off orders for fab presents left, right and center? You’ll be popular around the Christmas Tree this year! But be careful – a hugely popular, and even more damaging, scam last year saw fake confirmation emails sent out, claiming to be from major retailers.
These try to get you to open attached files that then infect your device or harvest things like passwords. If you didn’t buy the item, delete these emails straight away. Don’t let hackers ruin your holidays!