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article imageTop Christmas scams this 2012 holiday season

By Leigh Goessl     Nov 29, 2012 in Internet
While the holiday season is full of cheer, it is also a time when scammers come out in droves. Several top holiday-related scam lists have been published this week.
Digital Journal recently reported, "Tis the Season for Countefeiters" as increased incidents of counterfeited bills is found. It is also the time for other types of holiday-related scams.
The holidays are generally a time of year when people tend to share, but unfortunately, sharing doesn't necessarily mean spreading goodwill and joy. Two security software companies have released findings that point out the top Christmas scams this year.
McAfee and Kaspersky, developers of anti-virus and malware software, have each created a list of the top holiday scams. Here are a few selections:
1. Rogue mobile apps
The use of mobile for both personal and business reasons is exploding, perhaps especially for commerce. Experts project mobile use is going to continue to grow exponentially, and one of the unfortunate drawbacks with any kind of technology growth is it creates a lucrative avenue for scammers as well.
According to McAfee, as the number of mobile apps grow, so do the number of rogue applications. The company advises to only download from official app stores, use mobile security software, check app permissions and check user reviews before adding any app to a mobile device. Additionally, a recent study highlighted 33 percent of apps ask for unnecessary personal information.
2. Christmas eCards
Always a perennial favorite, hackers love to try to capitalize on the electronic method of sending season's greetings. Both Kaspersky and McAfee have this one on their top scam list noting that dangerous eCards can contain malware that can be downloaded to a user's computer.
3. Social media malware
Another one that made both Kaspersky and McAfee's lists, social media is a favorite pastime for billions of users worldwide. Unfortunately, it is also a breeding ground for malware. While the malware joy is spread year-round on social media, the holiday season is a favorite for scammers as people may be more vulnerable to want to check out holiday related games, videos, great deals, free gifts etc. shared by friends who have been infected.
4. Holiday screen savers
Screen savers were once a huge novelty for computers, but perhaps less emphasized these days. Despite this, it's still an oldie, but goodie, scheme. Kaspersky notes malware may be embedded in holiday-themed screen saver downloads and recommends to only download from trusted websites.
5. "Hot holiday gifts"
McAfee has a mention for "hot holiday gifts" in its top Christmas scam list, especially noting Apple products, which are typically a popular holiday seller. Bottom line, if it sounds too good, it probably is; always verify with the retailer (and make sure it is a trustworthy seller) before giving any information.
Other honorable scam mentions made by the companies are fake package delivery notifications, bogus gift cards, travel scams, and the year-round favorite ─ phishing, along with the up and coming SMiSishing. Additionally, the holiday season is the time of year that many fake businesses and charities pop up just in time to try and grab a percentage of consumer spending and/or generosity.
While they are busy throughout the year, scammers tend to add a little extra bah humbug into the holiday season. However, by getting familiarized with scams and keeping a keen eye out for warning signs, Internet users can avoid many of the schemes out there.
For McAfee and Kaspersky's complete lists, please visit the following links:
Kaspersky: (courtesy of CSO Online/IDG News Service)
Also, to read related information, check out Digital Journal's "Review: The latest Facebook scams to watch out for".
More about christmas scams, holiday scams, 2012 holiday season, Scams, Kaspersky
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