Holiday Scams

  • Nov 17, 2015

    Black Friday/Cyber Monday Specials

    Online holiday scams use a variety of lures to get unsuspecting buyers to click on links or open attachments. Scammers will build complete copies of well-known websites, send emails promoting great deals, sell products and take credit card information - but never deliver the goods.

    Websites that claim incredible discounts should be a red flag. Remember that when a "special offer" is too good to be true, it usually is. Eg, Never click on links in emails or browser popups that offer very deep discounts on watches, phones or tablets. Go to the website yourself via your internet browser and check if that offer is legitimate.

    Complimentary Vouchers or Gift Cards

    Phony vouchers or (Starbucks) gift cards paired with special promotions or contests might be offered from retailers and social media posts. Some posts or emails even appear to be shared by a friend (who may have already been hacked). Develop a healthy dose of skepticism. "Think Before You Click" on offers or attachments with any gift cards or vouchers.

    Bogus Shipping Notices from UPS and FedEx

    You may see emails in your inbox, supposedly from UPS and FedEx, claiming your package has a problem and/or could not be delivered. Many of these are phishing attacks that entice you to click a link or open an attachment. If you should click on one of these links, your computer will get infected with a virus or possbily ransomware, taking hostage of all your files until you pay $500 in ransom.

    Holiday Refund Scams

    Emails may come from retail chains or e-commerce companies, such as Amazon or eBay, claiming there's a "wrong transaction". The email prompts you to click a refund link. If you click the link and fill out a form, the personal information you provide will be sold to cyber criminals.

    Phishing on the Dark Side

    Another new phishing email has begun circulating. It tricks people into thinking they could win movie tickets for the highly-anticipated film, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Leading up to the film's release, and shortly thereafter, watch out for this email and don't fall for the scam.

    Bonus Tips

    Never use insecure public Wi-Fi to shop with your credit card. Only shop with a secure connection at home.

    Never pay online with a debit card -- only use credit cards. Why? If the debit card gets compromised, then your bank account could be quickly emptied.