What a shame during the Christmas holiday season, people inclined to be so generous and giving have to be on guard against scams.
And what a shame some people use other people’s good will for their own nefarious, crooked purposes.
Holiday shopping habits have become so “online” these days people spend about $96 billion annually on Internet purchases. And don’t think for a minute cybercrooks aren’t aware of this fact.
To avoid being scammed, the following tips from Intel Security should be kept in mind:
- If you have a smart phone, download applications from only official app stores and check other users’ reviews, as well as apps’ permission policies before downloading them. Scammers can get personal information if you download unofficial apps.
- Beware of special deals and contests on the Internet, especially via Facebook and Twitter. Twitter ads and special discounts can use shortened web addresses, many of which can be malicious. It is all too easy for people to be fooled, giving away financial information, phone numbers and home addresses. Try to stick with shopping sites you know and trust, and try to initiate such purchases yourself.
- Stay clear of travel scams that feature exotic photos and rock-bottom prices that look too good to be true, because they are. Such sites are used by crooks to access personal information, including credit-card numbers.
- Be on guard against spam and phishing pitches that offer big discounts on popular gifts. Do not respond to spam emails and do not click on links within them.
- Watch out for Skype message scares that ask you a question, such as “LOL. Is it true this is a picture of you?!” If you click on it, a Trojan may download onto your hard drive and blast the dangerous link to all of your contacts. These scoundrels sometimes even demand money for you to regain access to your files.
- Do not buy gift cards from third parties. Buy them from official retailers.
- Fake charities abound in the holiday season, and crooks have become adept at making their pitches look just like the “real thing.” Some of these fake charities play upon your sentiments or patriotic feelings. It’s always best to initiate the contact with a charity to make sure the website is on the level.
- Be leery of e-cards. Some of them can be malicious and will infect your computer with a virus if you click to download them. Never open one from someone you do not know.
- Update or get a new security system for your computers.
- The best advice is to beware of things that sound too good to be true, and do not click on any links sent by people you do not know. Another good tip is to stick with reputable businesses. Also, look for a “lock” symbol and “https” at the beginning of the web address (as opposed to just “http”). That way, you can tell if the site uses encryption data to protect your personal data.
We hope in this Christmas season, the crooks get what they deserve: a lump of coal in their stockings.