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How To Avoid 5 Holiday Cyber Scams

As the holiday season approaches, cybercriminals target online shoppers and internet users. Moreover, with the rise of smartphones and the United States economy, these devices have become a key buying method.

Fraudulent text messages and WhatsApp messages are used to spread malware, ransomware, and other malicious information.

A recent study found that one in every 25 apps supposedly issued by retailers for Black Friday are fraudulent.

Shockingly, over 32,000 phony apps carry malware that could steal credit card information and lock up devices in ransomware scams. Additionally, they unleash malware agents on corporate servers.

Cybercriminals generate over $1.5 trillion in total revenue annually. Furthermore, 43% of shoppers who have had their identities stolen say it happened during the holiday season. Scammers prepare well for their bad actions. According to the blog by CyberGhost, they know that before the Christmas holidays people are used to seeing the websites with snowflakes, reindeer, etc, so bad actors use these symbols to attract more people to their malicious websites.

Therefore, it’s crucial to be extra cautious while shopping online during the holiday season to protect oneself from cybercrime.

This article will discuss some of the widespread cyber scams you might face during the holiday season.

Holiday Cyber Scams You Must Avoid

Given below are the five worst holiday cyber scams that can ruin the season for you—

1. Gift Cards From Big Companies

In the past, Bill Gates gave away thousands of dollars to random email addresses. This act was a goodwill gesture.

However, in today’s economic climate, scammers have offered a gift card worth around $100 to lure unsuspecting victims.

These fraudsters often dupe people into clicking on a link. They pose as big-name companies like Amazon or Apple. Furthermore, they promise you a gift card as a reward for being a loyal customer.

However, once you click on the link, it takes you to an empty website that infects your device with malware.

This allows the hackers behind the scheme to access valuable information, such as credit card numbers and other sensitive data.

Therefore, it’s highly unlikely that reputable companies will offer rewards this way. Moreover, Amazon and other big brands have many legitimate ways to reward their customers without using such tactics.

2. Hot Deal Scam

It’s not uncommon to come across fake websites. These websites advertise popular items that are difficult to find elsewhere.

However, these items are often illegitimate and can result in consumers paying for a product they will never receive.

In addition to losing their hard-earned money, the consumer may unwittingly give away their personal payment details.

Therefore, consumers need to exercise caution. You must thoroughly check the legitimacy of both the product and the seller before making any purchase.

One reliable resource for this is the Better Business Bureau. This organization provides valuable information and ratings on businesses to help consumers make informed decisions.

3. Mimic Websites

It is important to be aware of the online retail scams that are rampant these days. Scammers use various tactics to create fake retail websites. These websites look like trusted and well-known websites or create new ones that offer unbelievable deals.

Since the first of October, Trend Micro has identified close to 35,000 URLs for counterfeit retail sites.

Therefore, you must pay close attention to the spelling of the website’s name when receiving emails or seeing ads for deals.

In many cases, the scammers slightly alter the spelling of the name. This can trick people into clicking on the link and falling into their trap.

Navigating directly to the retailer’s website is always best to stay safe. Therefore, avoid clicking on any links in emails or online ads.

By doing so, you can be sure to access an authentic website and avoid falling victim to fraudulent activities.

4. Compromised Account Alert

Email scammers use the names of major companies such as American Express and Navy Federal Credit Union. These scammers trick people into revealing their account information.

The emails look official and claim that urgent action is necessary to prevent fraudulent charges or account compromise.

However, the links in these emails lead to fake websites that steal your account information.

If you receive such emails, ignore them and do not click on any links.

Moreover, if you have any concerns, contact the company directly using the phone number on their website. This will help you ensure that you speak to a genuine customer service representative rather than a scammer.

Therefore, be cautious of messages that pressure you to act immediately to prevent fraudulent charges. Always verify their authenticity before responding.

5. Phishing Texts And Emails

As the holiday season approaches, scammers can send phishing emails that appear to be from trusted companies or agencies.

These fraudsters often impersonate well-known companies like Amazon or Apple to offer “giveaways” or claim to be from your bank. Moreover, they might warn you of a compromise in your account.

They aim to persuade you to click a suspicious link or call a phone number. Next, they force you to give up your sensitive information or money.

They might also offer “free gifts” in exchange for your private information.

Therefore, watch out for unsolicited messages about special offers or prizes to avoid being conned. Also, only click on strange links with spelling, grammar, and formatting consistency.

Recognizing the warning signs is crucial, as well as disregarding emails and texts from unknown sources and avoiding clicking on unfamiliar links.

Lastly, verify the message’s authenticity when in doubt by logging in to your account or contacting the company directly.

Save Yourself From Cyber Scams This Season

It’s crucial to prioritize online safety during the holiday season. Therefore, we have made a list of some major safety precautions below that you must follow:

  • Be vigilant for signs of fake websites, like unusual formatting, spelling errors, unprofessional designs, and a lack of contact details.
  • Before purchasing, research the seller and look for any complaints on BBB’s Scam Tracker website on Reddit.
  • Be wary of emails or text messages from unknown sources, and never share sensitive information.
  • Use unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication to make it more challenging for hackers to gain access to your accounts.
  • During the holiday season, be cautious of scam phone calls and ensure that you regularly check your online bank statements.
  • Always use credit instead of debit cards when shopping online, as they offer better protection against fraudulent card usage.
  • If you’re buying gift cards, only purchase them from reputable vendors, and ensure the card information is obscured.
  • Consider investing in an all-in-one digital security solution.
  • Always be skeptical and stay safe regarding deals that appear too good to be true.

To wrap it up, we wish you a safe and secure holiday and enjoy it without falling prey to online scammers!

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Barsha Bhattacharya

Barsha Bhattacharya is a senior content writing executive. As a marketing enthusiast and professional for the past 4 years, writing is new to Barsha. And she is loving every bit of it. Her niches are marketing, lifestyle, wellness, travel and entertainment. Apart from writing, Barsha loves to travel, binge-watch, research conspiracy theories, Instagram and overthink.

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