Wednesday, November 4, 2015

'Tis the season for scams - watch out for these holiday frauds

As Thanksgiving Day arrives in the United States, it is not only the season to be jolly, but the season for scams for the next six weeks. This is a busy time of year. People are shopping, attending parties, and a flurry of other activity.  In other words, people might be distracted, which makes for a perfect scenario for a scammer to hatch a scheme to lure his or her prey.
Mobile with festive decorations
CC0 Image by beahohl / Pixabay

Scams that tend to circulate around the holidays include:
  • Phishing emails offering great deals (a good rule of thumb - if you haven't done business with the company - it's likely a scam).
  • Links on social media offering free or next-to-free goods. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Also many of these links may contain malware or other compromising attributes. If a deal is valid, it will be advertised on the official website or possibly in the media.
  • Fake charities. Schemers try to appeal to the generosity of people creating fake charities or finding other ways to steal money (or identities!). Always verify through a reputable source before giving cash, checks or credit card numbers.
  • Bogus apps. Mobile use is increasing at an incredible rate. Beware of questionable apps and always use official app stores when downloading.
  • "Year in Review" articles. These often contain interesting titles and are used as bait to lure users to click on bad links which may contain malware.
  • Videos. In the past, this has run rampant on Facebook. Watch out for video links that seem sensational or unbelievable.
  • Free gift cards. No company is going to give you a free $100 gift card (and in 2014 this one is going out from multiple "companies", I've received a ton of them myself).
  • Fake delivery notices. In Dec. 2014 the U.S. Federal Trade Commission warned of a fake “delivery failure notification” email scam at a time of year many people are expecting packages. There have also been other emails allegedly coming from popular retailers. 
According to ScamBusters.org, the time frame between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the "busiest" season for scams. 

It's a good idea to be vigilant at all times, 'tis the Season for Scams, be especially careful during the holidays.

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