Security software firm McAfee announced its annual “12 Scams of the Holidays” list to bring awareness among the public on the most popular ways cyber scrooges scam consumers during the holiday season as they surf their digital devices.
This holiday season, sales are expected to rise to around $616.9 billion, while e-commerce sales are predicted to increase between 8-11%, with the majority of consumers using their smartphones to shop.
“As consumers shop, bank and share more while on the go, they open themselves up to threats from criminals who want to steal their personal information,” says McAfee Chief Consumer Security Evangelist Gary Davis. “Understanding what to watch out for and how to properly secure their devices gives consumers additional information to protect their digital lives.”
The scams to be aware of this holiday season according to McAfee’s press release:
1. Mail — Since many people go online to do their holiday shopping, McAfee warns that the risk for shipping notification and phishing scams are on the rise. Though malware is a constant risk but consumers are more likely to click on shopping notification or phishing e-mails during the holiday season because they think it is legitimate.
2. Advertising — McAfee notes that consumers are looking for great deals during holiday season and warned shoppers to beware of dangerous links, phony contests on social media, and fake gift cards through which scammers try to steal their personal information and ruin their holiday cheer.
3. Charities —During holidays, most people give back by donating to their favorite charity. McAfee warns about fake charities that could reach people through their email, or are shared through social networks.
4. Buyer Beware —Unfortunately, scams cannot be avoided all the time. Point of sale malware results in exposing credit card information of consumers. McAfee suggests checking the credit card statements vigilantly and making sure there wasn’t any unusual activity through the point-of-sale systems.
5. iScams — Loads of new mobile apps for iOS and Android devices are added every day. With technology advancing so much, today’s smartphone can be integrated with the owner’s credit card, house key, camera and email. McAfee warns that even the most official-looking app could turn out malicious and access their personal information.
6. E-Card — McAfee warns about digital e-card scams that cause people to unintentionally download malware onto their device when sending or reading digital e-cards from loved ones. Well-known e-card sites are safe.
7. Holiday Travel Scams — With people travelling more during the peak holiday season, bogus online travel deal links are on the rise. Once people arrive at their destination, there is also a risk of spyware that can access their information. People are advised to avoid fake online deal links that offer low cost airfare or hotel rooms.
8. Bank Robocall Scam — Consumers receive a fake phone call informing them that their computer is affected with malware and their personal information is needed along with the account password, to make the required changes. They are advised to hang up and call the company directly.
9. ATM Skimming — Criminals can access information at ATMs by placing skimming devices to steal the banking information off a person’s card’s magnetic strip and either by using a video camera or keypad overlay to capture the PIN. McAfee suggests people to look closely at the ATM for anything different than usual and also cover the keypad while entering their PIN.
10. Year in Review Traps — A lot of year in review articles will be coming out in December. However, the titles can sometimes be malicious and links from such sources could infect and compromise the security of the devices.
11. BYO…Device — People are more likely to forget their phones in public places during the hustle and bustle of shopping and traveling during the holiday season. If the appropriate security measures are not in place, hackers can gain access to sensitive personal information and business data.
12. Bad USB Blues — People should be vary of using the free USB giveaways, which may contain undetectable malware pre-installed on them.