It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I love Christmas and the Holiday Season. I love the short days, long nights and the decorations that transport me to a winter wonderland. I’m not the only one who loves this time of the year, cyber-criminals love it too. Cyber criminals increase their efforts to scam you out of money and steal your identify during this time of the year because they realize most people are distracted by the hectic holiday season, and capitalize on the hustle and bustle by creating timely scams that are designed to fool people with all levels of tech expertise. Don’t let all of this talk about scams ruin your Holiday Season. Keep a watchful eye for the following scams and you will have a joyous time in this season of light. 1. Porch Pirates. You’ve seen them. Following the UPS truck like a school of sharks waiting to go in for the kill. Porch Pirates wait for packages to arrive at your doorstep so they can swoop them up.
2. Package email scam. You’re expecting a package from Amazon and get an e-mail notifying there is a problem with delivery. You click on it to find out what the problem is and you’re taken to a web site that plants a virus on your computer.
3. Fake Venders on Shopping Websites. You purchase an item from an online web site, but you never get it. You call to find out what the problem is, give out your personal information and credit card to verify the order. Next thing you know suspicious charges show up in your credit card accounts.
4. Scam Phone Calls. Large company breaches have exposed a lot of our personal information to hackers. You may have noticed an increase in calls from companies claiming to be from your bank, credit card or cellular provider saying there is a problem with your account.
5.Charity scams for fake donations. Cybercriminals take advantage of your urge to give at this time of the year. They pose as your favorite charity as the season to donate comes along.
6. Credit Card skimmers. Everyone will be hitting the ATMs to get access to cash for holiday shopping and visiting the gas pumps to fill up for those long holiday road trips. Skimmers are a quick and easy way for criminals to steal your hard earned cash. How can you avoid these Holiday Scams? 1. Understand the Nature of these attacks. Most online scams use very sophisticated social engineering tactics to prey on your emotions, and attempt to create a sense of extreme urgency, in an attempt to convince you to react quickly and emotionally. With that said, always think before you act when it comes to e-mails and phones calls. Take the emotion out of your actions when you respond phone calls and emails. 2. Stay in Control. When it comes to people requesting for your personal information, always stay in control. Just because that email looks like it came from your credit card company , it doesn’t mean it’s not a phishing message. If you have any concerns all about the status of any account, make a call to the company to verify your account status. When it comes to package delivery from online retailers, get a PO Box or have your packages mailed to your job to prevent stolen packages. 3. Do Online Research. Many of the scams making their way around the internet have been around for years in one form or another. If you see something suspicious, a quick internet search can confirm if the message or call you’re getting is a scam or legit. 4. Be cautious and verify. With the volume and types of scams increasing, it’s impossible to identify every risk out there. Which means If something seems suspicious, don’t trust it. Also train yourself to take a few extra seconds to verify things like the URL, the spelling, and the email sender. 5. Be Safe When Shopping Online. Only shop at secure online sites. Take a look at your browser’s address bar and make sure you see https: at the beginning of the site’s URL. If you see this, your connection should be secure, which means your information is safe to transmit. Use a credit card or a pre-paid credit card for online shopping. 6. Be Safe While Shopping In the Store. Skimming devices can be attached to just about any credit card machine, whether it’s a local ATM, gas station, or as Target found out, any in-store credit card machine at a register. Verify the slot you’re inserting your card into actually belongs to the store. Grab and wiggle, if it pops lose, then it’s fake. Also, thieves aren’t above old fashioned robbery, so keep your wallets and purses close to you and keep large amounts of cash out of sight. If you have some unique tips for avoiding Holiday scams, be sure to leave a comment below.
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Burton Kelso is a Kansas City based Tech Expert and the Chief Technology Expert at Integral, providing on-site and remote support for computers, tablets, smartphones, routers, printers, and any device that connects to the internet. He regularly appears as a guest tech correspondent on ABC, NBC, FOX, and CBS on shows such as Kansas City Live, Better Kansas City, FOX 4 Morning Show, offering viewers easy tips on technology, Internet lifestyle, Internet security and gadgets. You can find Burton on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and watch great tech tip videos on his YouTube channel. He can be reached at 888-256-0829 or email at email@example.com