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article image12 Scams of Christmas

By Michael Bearak     Nov 30, 2009 in Business
The holiday season has officially begun. We are now experiencing Cyber Monday, the first Monday after Black Friday. Here are 12 commons scams to watch out for.
"Tis the season for crooks and criminals..." at least that is how we unfortunately have to look at this festive time of the year. Fox News is reporting that the security company McAfee has released 12 scams that are seen during the holiday season. That said, Fox News also reports from Consumer Reports that cybercriminals have taken $8 billion dollars from consumers in just the last two years. The old adage, if it seems to good to be true usually seems to apply but McAfee has uncovered other ways that just seem natural and good.
Scam 1: Charity Phishing
People always are more generous at this time of the year and the crooks know it. Scammers send official looking e-mails from charities we all know. The e-mails look real and sound real and then there is a link that sends you to an official looking website. It is here that the crooks steal your credit card information and your identity. Simple tip, if you want to donate to the charity of your choice, do it the old fashion way and write a check and send it to them.
Scam 2: Fake Invoices from Delivery Services
The holiday season wouldn't be complete if it weren't for UPS, FedEX and our mailman working late to deliver letters and packages to us. The cybercriminals have figured that out too and they now generate a notification that people need to pay additional fees to get your package, they even send an attachment that looks like an invoice. Here they can do one of two things; first steal your credit card information and identity or second they can add malware into your computer and continue to monitor what you do and what information you access on the Internet.
Scam 3: Social Networking Friend Request
This is similar to the fake invoices on #2. Here criminals just hope that you are a member of "Facebook or "My Space" and they send you a fake "freind request" in hopes that you click to accept it. Once you do malware is automatically installed in your computer and they again can steel information you access on the internet.
Scam 4: Holiday E-Cards
Every IT Director I have known hate E-Cards because more often then not they are there to steal your information. Accessing an E-Card download spyware or maleware into your computer and they steal your identity, bank information and credit card information.
Scam 5: Holiday Jewelry
This is new and it appeals to something most people like and that is high end jewelry at discount prices. The criminals have gotten smart enough to have fraudulent Better Business Bureau logos to lure in unsuspecting shoppers. The websites with offers for Cartier and Gucci jewelry are full of malware just waiting to steal your identity and valuable information. Again, if it seems to good to be true then it probably is...
Scam 6: Online Identity Theft
Here shoppers use free wireless networks, local "Hot Spots" and such to get in additional shopping while having a cup of coffee or a bite to eat. Here hackers spy on your activity and steam personal information. Use safe and secured or "non-public" web access when you are shopping
Scam 7: Phony Websites
This is similar to some of the other scams. Here hackers create websites that are holiday related. You know you can't name all of Santa's reindeer so you "look it up" or you want a festive screen-saver or something else so you end up at one of these sites and start downloading things but the sights infect your computer with spyware, adware and malware.
Scam 8: Job-Related E-mail Rip-offs
The down economy and high unemployment has provided scammers with another avenue to get at us. They get you hooked on e-mails for high paying jobs and work-from-home opportunities. They get you to submit information and pay a set-up fee. They crooks steal your money and never follow-though on the job opportunity.
Scam 9: Auction Site Fraud
This is another case of something seeming too good to be true. Auctions are set up with wonderful looking items at extremely low prices. You win the auction, pay for the the item but the merchandise never is delivered.
Scam 10: Password Robbery
This is pretty easy. Here the criminals send out malware and record your keystrokes and what you do at specific websites to gain access to your passwords in relation to specific websites. In no time at all they have access to bank accounts and credit cards and in no time they have the accounts cleaned out.
Scam 11: E-Mail Banking
This has been around a few years, but with more and more people doing online banking the thieves have gotten smarter. They send out official looking e-mails from major banks asking you to discuss your account with them. These e-mails look official, even with the seal and everything else on them, and they have a warning that if they don't talk to you, your account will be shut off. So you reply to the request for information because you go to their fake website and there they ask you a series of questions to open yourself up and you give them all the information they need to hack into your account.
Scam 12: Ransomware Boondoggles
Hackers use virtual kidnappers and hijack computer files. They encrypt them, rendering them unreadable and inaccessible. Then the scammer holds the files and demands payment in exchange for getting the information back.
In the end you just need to be careful. It is kind of like the old adage, "Don't believe everything you see (or read)." Be careful, only open e-mails from people you know and trust. Use internet providers that are safe and secure and if something looks too good to be true, well then it probably is to good.
More about Scams, Cyber monday, Buyer protection, Phishing
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