Are you smarter than a scammer? Four Holiday Phishing Scams – Stay Safe

 

As the holiday season quickly approaches, online scams will reach their annual high. With internet wide Black Friday and holiday sales becoming increasingly popular, scam artists are preparing for the holiday season in their own way.

How well informed are you about online scams? Do you know how to identify them? To help you stay safe, we are highlighting four common phishing scams prominent during the holiday season.

Phishing scams have evolved over the years. They have become more sophisticated, with higher attention to detail, making them harder to identify and easier to fall victim to. What are scammers looking for? They’re looking to install malware (malicious software) onto your computer, obtain your login credentials, or your personal payment information.

 

Fake invoices

This is a very common phishing scam. The email and invoice will have the company logo and a fake email address. It will mimic invoices of the most popular brands today, like PayPal, Apple, Amazon and Ebay.

Be on the lookout for grammatical errors, email addresses that are nearly correct, with one or two additional characters, the item(s) you purchased and, most importantly, any hyperlinks. Hover your cursor over the link and verify that it will navigate you to a trustworthy website.

The email will prompt you to log in from a link embedded into the email, or it will inform you of a payment that could not be processed. If you click the link, it will redirect you to an untrustworthy website, that will mimic the brand’s identity. You submit your login credentials or payment information, which is stored in that website. It is common that the scam artist has added your personal information to a list, which they will use for resale.

An example of a fake invoice from paypal

Scam artists are clever, If you do fall victim, contact your credit card company. Explain the situation and t

hey will cancel your credit card, and advise you on any extra steps to be taken.

Change your passwords. We suggest an online password manager

Do not use the same password for multiple sites. if your online credentials are duplicated, and your information ends up on a list, scammers will have access to multiple accounts.

Courier Emails

With online shopping at an all time high during the holiday season, courier scams become an easy target. You receive an email from a popular courier delivery service stating that your parcel has arrived, but was unable to deliver.

An example of a courier scam from FedEx

Again, check the email, unless it’s from the courier’s email address, do not trust it. Often, the logo will have very slight difference(s). Do not click on the tracking number until you are certain the email is legitimate. If you do click it, chances are you have granted Malware permission to download onto your computer.

If there is a button that prompts you to click here, or print receipt, hover your cursor over it and make sure it will lead you to a trustworthy website. We highly suggest visiting the couriers website and manually type in the tracking ID. If it can’t be found, you can contact that courier and inform them of the scam.

If you have clicked the link, invest in quality virus removal software, or bring your computer to a local expert.

 

Domain Squatting

Domain squatting is on the rise and becomes prominent around Black Friday. Be wary of domain names that look like www.michaelkhors.blackfriday, or www.rolex.bix. The website’s look legitimate, advertising name brand products at a fraction of the price.

If you purchase one of these discounted products, you will be lead through the familiar process of submitting your billing, shipping address and payment information.

The outcome is you never receive your products and your credit card information is stolen. It is common to find unauthorized transactions on your card statement, or scammers may use your information for resale.

If you end up as one of the unfortunate victims of this phishing scam, call and report your situation to your credit card company.

 

Fake Rental Properties

The winter holidays are a very busy time for travel companies. The majority of families celebrate the holidays together. This has not gone unnoticed with online scammers.

When booking a rental property during the holiday season, double check to make sure it is authentic. If there is a contact number, call to verify, scan the reviews, check for grammatical errors. If the price is too good to be true, it usually is.

If you do book one of these scam “properties” contact your credit card company to cancel your card. Change passwords to any websites you have used to log in to that site.

Online scams are successful because they are designed to trigger a state of fear or excitement in you. If you receive a false email urging you to react right away, take a deep breath and look closely at the details.

Scammers have grown clever, making it increasingly easy to fall victim to one of these scams. By being aware of the common clues you can avoid a costly mistake. If you want to stay on top of recent scams, you can follow the subreddit r/scams

Whenever I am online, a lesson I learnt in high-school always comes to mind.

Don’t trust information you read until you’ve found it in three reputable sources. In this case, I am suspicious until I can identify the trust of the source.

Now we’d like to hear from you. What online scams have you been exposed to? Leave your comments below.

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