Cybercriminals Have Already Started Christmas Scams
On the eve of the Christmas and New Year holidays, online scammers can make a lot of money from gullible people.
Consumers often fall into the hands of cybercriminals when trying to buy cheap gifts.
To help keep you safe, we have prepared a list of the most popular Christmas scams in 2020 so you can avoid any traps set by festive fraudsters.
The most popular way for cybercriminals to get rich illegally during the holidays is to pretend to be a charity. It often works like this; scammers announce a fundraiser to help people in need. They provide only payment details with no supporting certificates. Altruistic people wanting to help transfer money. But that money does not reach the supposed recipients, just the wallets of the fraudsters.
If you’d like to make a donation this Christmas, then look up an organization’s credentials on Charity Navigator first to check if it is real.
Online shopping scams
Think you have found a perfect Christmas gift at a great price? Think again. Or at least double check before buying. Scammers often set up fake online stores on websites or social media to resemble real online retailers. A lot of items are at very low prices, but you might end up buying a fake or even nothing at all.
So to protect yourself be sure to check if the website you are surfing is reliable and be wary of making an upfront payment for a gift.
Some criminals will send scam emails appearing to be from official companies asking for payments. But how often do these companies really ask for financial help?
Most emails will redirect you to fake websites that look legitimate but have a different URL.
The purpose of any such phishing attack is to obtain as much of your private information as possible. This helps attackers do things like steal money from your bank account or apply for credit cards on your behalf.
Gift cards scams
If you have received a gift card you cannot use, you can easily find people online who are ready to take it from you. But be careful with those offering to purchase it.
Stay away from posts on social media with offers to buy a gift card or from people who are supposedly willing to pay the full price of your card. A real buyer will pay you 80% of the cost of the card at most.
It is better to use special gift services to make the process more reliable and safe.
Everyone is happy to receive an unexpected gift. Fraudsters rely on peoples’ emotions and the increase in seasonal parcel deliveries to deceive online consumers.
For example, an official message may appear in your inbox saying there was an attempt to deliver a parcel to you. You call the number and are asked to provide your personal information, such as a credit card number or social security number, to complete the delivery. This could be a hoax set up by a scammer who may now use this information to steal money from your credit card, create credit accounts in your name or commit another form of identity theft.
Holiday accommodation scams
Time for a vacation, huh? If you're relaxing somewhere in your own country or flying abroad during the Christmas season, scammers will use this as an opportunity to access your money or personal information. Look out for bogus hotel coupons, scam travel clubs, and criminals asking you to pay upfront for accommodation not currently eligible to rent.
Flight booking scams
One of the most popular scams with holidays at this time of year is the tempting offer of a free airline ticket.
The victim of this scam sees a message or post on the "official" website of an airline or travel company. The note claims that anyone can demand two free airline tickets inside your country by clicking on the link included. The only thing you need to do is to log in with your email and password and pay some ridiculous fee for luggage. This is a cunning way for criminals to trick you into handing over your credit card credentials.
Another tactic scammers use is setting up false websites that look genuine and make you think you're buying a real flight ticket. When you arrive at the airport, you might be disappointed to find out your booking was actually false.
Have you ever received a message telling you you’ve been lucky enough to win $500,000? If yes, you totally know what a lottery scam is. In the Christmas forecast the number of so-called “winners” is growing.
Of course, there are many legitimate lottery jackpots, tournaments, and sweepstakes during the holiday season, but there are also plenty of scams circulating at this time of year too. These scams often use the names of legitimate lotteries or famous companies, events, or individuals to make them seem more authentic. Usually, you're going to be asked to pay a number of ongoing fees to release your winnings, but you're going to lose all the money you pay and won't get anything in return.
Christmas e-card scams
It is not a surprise at this time of year to send or receive emails containing links to Christmas ecards.
Although these emails mostly come from co-workers, friends, and relatives, they may have been unknowingly forwarded to attachments containing secret malware or links to spam websites.
Emails can contain animations, images, videos, or links to download malicious software to your computer when opened. Malware can be used to steal confidential personal information stored on your device or to monitor your keystrokes as you enter passwords online.
Here are some tips to avoid fraud risks of Christmas
Check this list of advice to make sure you are prepared to deal with all the online scams the festive period brings:
- Install and set up an antivirus software
- Use strong passwords
- Do not open messages or suspicious files you do not expect to receive
- Check website addresses
- Never pay strangers upfront