Don’t Get Holiday Scammed
The holiday season is upon us and and an old friend of mine used to say, “Merry ChristmaHannuKwanzzakah!”
Not all of the people in the world are focused on spreading joy and giving. Some of them are unfortunately spending their time being naughty by trying to steal from you and others. This time of year is rife with fraud.
Below, I have listed some things to watch out for, but you should also make sure to install antivirus software on your smartphone, PC and tablet. Exercise informed skepticism and look at our list below.
- Fake shipping notifications. Trustworthy vendors will give you a complete breakdown of how many packages your order will be shipped in and easy-to-use tracking information.
- FakeInstaller. This is phone malware that sends SMS texts to premium numbers. You get stuck with the bill. Call your phone company if you think this might have happened.
- Email, SMS, and pop-up ad scams. These can promise unbelievable prices on hot ticket items such as the Sony PS4 or Xbox One. If it sounds too good to be true . . .
- Phony holiday travel deals. Do business only with known reputable vendors.
- Malware in e-cards and other online greeting card systems. This is where anti-virus software comes in handy.
- Alternate web sites offering free versions of for-pay popular games. Do business only with known reputable vendors.
- Malware mobile apps. These promise great holiday shopping deals that ask you to bypass normal security controls such as logging into a known good site or requiring the extra authentication you set up with your vendor. And guess what? Do business with only known reputable vendors.
- Outrageously good offers on gift cards. Most web companies, to include big ones like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, rarely do a good job checking the ads that show on their pages. Be very wary of claims that seem too good to be true.
- Phishing via SMS (SMiShing). If anyone emails or texts you asking for you to send account information such as username, password or other private information, do not reply. No legitimate company will ever ask you for your password or other similar details. Don’t respond.
- Fake charity campaigns. Contribute only to those charities you can confirm are valid. Go to the Federal Trade Commission’s web page on charities.
- Holiday romance scams. This time of year many people feel lonely and isolated. Phishing scammers have no inhibition about taking advantage of you by asking for private information such as passwords and bank account information. Don’t respond.
- Fake online retailer sites that look like the real ones. Scammers will set up websites to take advantage of typos and misspellings in web addresses. Check the browser address bar to make sure you have gone to the site you intended.
So what’s the moral of this Christmas tale? Be aware of who you are doing business with and who you are communicating with. (And it never hurts to check your bank account every day this time of the year to make sure you don’t have any suspicious transactions.)