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Christmas Scammers: You’re on their list!

It’s that time of year again: you’re doing a lot of shopping, both online and in stores, you’re visiting the post office to send and receive parcels, and your favourite retailers and e-tailers are throwing deals and incentives at you every time you turn around.

But there’s another kind of opportunist lurking in the nether reaches of the internet and they are counting on your inattention, distraction, and Christmas-trust to coerce you into responding to their nefarious schemes. Cybercriminals view Christmas as prime phishing time, and will surely be sending you fake offers to click on, bogus ecards to open, and the ever-popular failed delivery scam.

The latter preys on the excitement of possible gifts coming your way via FedEx, UPS, or the Royal Mail itself. But how can you stay on top of the scams and avoid being hacked?

Here are some of the top cyber-scams to look out for this holiday season:

Fake Shopping sites

Pop-up shops are not uncommon at the holidays, but being able to spot a fake shop is key. They will take your payment information and you won’t be getting anything in return. Exercise your right to research before you buy. Always check current reviews and ratings, just to be sure. If there is no contact information, phone number or email, that should be a red flag. If there is a phone number on the site, call it to be sure they are bona fide.

Fake delivery notices

During the holiday rush, many people will lose track of what package is going where, and scammers prey on this, sending out “failed delivery” notices and asking you to click on a link. When you do, you may be taken to a malicious site or malware may be downloaded onto your device. Always check the return address and contact info to ensure the sender is legitimate. If you need to track a package, do so through the store or courier website. Most e-tailers will supply you with a link or a page from which to track your package. Bookmark it or print it so that you have a direct resource.

E-vouchers

We often see this type of thing on Facebook or on other socially-oriented sites, but they may show up in your inbox as well. If you receive an offer for free samples or free goods, check to ensure that the message looks professional and that the sending company is legitimate. If the message or ad has bad grammar or misspelled words, think twice before following the link. Clicking on this type of ad will almost certainly take you to a page where you are asked for your personal or payment information.

Irresistible deals

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. You will see this sort of ad often on social media sites – companies offering insane deals on high-value items like jewellery, handbags, or electronics. Scammers go this route because this type of ad can potentially be shared to thousands of unsuspecting users. They may even become “friends” of yours or friends of friends – but unless you know them personally, beware.

Your smartphone is not exempt

More and more, scammers are targeting people through SMS on their smartphones. The message could look like it’s coming from a legitimate company (your internet provider, for instance) saying that you’ve overpaid and they’re offering you a refund. They will offer you a link to deposit your funds and you will promptly get a notice from “your bank” asking you to update your information … and you can figure out the rest.

In conclusion, these are only a handful of the potential scams you might see over the holidays. It always pays to be extra careful. Check all contact information before responding and if you are in doubt, call the company directly for confirmation, especially if it’s a financial transaction.

Allteks is a managed IT services provider, delivering trusted advice to our clients since 2001. If you have any concerns about your online safety, call to speak to a security specialist

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