The 12 scams of Christmas 2010
Here are scammers' top online plans to steal your money or your identity this holiday season.
The Christmas shopping season is traditionally a boon to retailers and scammers alike.
McAfee, an Internet security firm, has revealed its "12 Scams of Christmas" -- the 12 most dangerous online scams that computer users should be cautious of this holiday season.
"Scams continue to be big business for cybercriminals who have their sights set on capitalizing on open hearts and wallets this holiday season," said Dave Marcus, the director of security research for McAfee Labs. "As people jump online to look for deals on gifts and travel, it's important to recognize common scams to safeguard against theft."
Here, then, are McAfee's 12 scams of Christmas:
IPad offer scams. With Apple products topping many shopping lists this holiday season, scammers are busy distributing bogus offers for free iPads. In the spam version of the scam, consumers are asked to purchase other products and provide their credit card number to get the free iPad. Of course, victims never receive the iPad or the other items -- just the headache of reporting a stolen credit card number.
In the social-media version of the scam, users take a quiz to win a free iPad and must supply their cell phone number to receive the results. In actuality they are signed up for a cell phone scam that costs $10 a week. Post continues after video.
"Help! I've been robbed" scam. This travel scam sends phony distress messages to family and friends requesting that money be wired or transferred so that the "victim" can get home. McAfee Labs says there's been an increase in this scam and predicts its rise during the busy travel season.
Fake gift cards. Cybercrooks use social media to promote fake gift card offers with the goal of stealing consumers' money and information, which is then sold to marketers or used for ID theft.
One recent Facebook scam offered a "free $1,000 Best Buy gift card" to the first 20,000 people who signed up for a Best Buy fan page, which was a look-alike. To apply for the gift card they had to provide personal information and take a series of quizzes.
Holiday job offers. As people have sought extra cash for gifts this holiday season, Twitter scams offered dangerous links to high-paying, work-at-home jobs that ask for your personal information, such as your e-mail address, home address and Social Security number, to apply for the fake job.
Smishing. Cybercrooks are now "smishing," or sending phishing SMS texts. These texts appear to come from your bank or an online retailer saying that there is something wrong with an account and you have to call a number to verify your account information. In reality, these efforts are merely a ruse to extract valuable personal information from the targets.
Cybercrooks know that people are more vulnerable to this scam during the holiday season when they're doing more online shopping and checking bank balances frequently.
Suspicious holiday rentals. During peak travel times when consumers often look online for affordable holiday rentals, cybercrooks post fake holiday rental sites that ask for down payments on properties by credit card or wire transfer.
Recession scams. Scammers target vulnerable consumers with recession-related scams such as pay-in-advance credit schemes. McAfee Labs has seen a significant number of spam e-mails advertising prequalified, low-interest loans and credit cards if the recipient pays a processing fee, which goes directly into the scammer's pocket.
Grinch-like greetings. E-cards are a convenient and earth-friendly way to send greetings to friends and family, but cybercriminals load fake versions with links to computer viruses and other malware instead of cheer. According to McAfee Labs, computers may start displaying obscene images, pop-up ads or even start sending cards to contacts that appear to come from you.
Low price traps. Shoppers should be cautious of products offered at prices far below those of competitors. Cyber scammers use auction sites and fake websites to offer too-good-to-be-true deals with the goal of stealing your money and information.
Charity scams. The holidays have historically been a prime time for charity scams since it's a traditional time for giving. Common ploys include phone calls and spam e-mails asking you to donate to veterans' charities, children's causes and relief funds for the latest catastrophe.
Dangerous holiday downloads. Holiday-themed screensavers, jingles and animations are an easy way for scammers to spread viruses and other computer threats, especially when links come from an e-mail or IM that appears to be from a friend.
Hotel and airport Wi-Fi. During the holidays, many people travel and use free Wi-Fi in places like hotels and airports. This is a tempting time for thieves to hack into networks hoping to find opportunities for theft.
McAfee advises Internet users to follow these five tips to protect their computers and personal information:
- Stick to well-established and trusted sites that include trust marks (icons or seals from third parties verifying that the site is safe), user reviews and customer support. A reputable trust mark provider will have a live link attached to its trust mark icon, which will take visitors to a verification website of the trust mark provider.
- Do not respond to offers that arrive in spam e-mails, texts or instant messages.
- Preview a link's web address before you click on it to make sure it is going to an established site. Never download or click anything from an unknown source.
- Stay away from vendors that offer prices well below the norm. Don't believe anything that sounds too good to be true.
- Make sure to use trusted Wi-Fi networks. Don't check bank accounts or shop online if you're not sure the network is safe.
Beware of ANY furniture ad's touting "Bankruptcy sale" "Huge Manufacturer buyout" or ANY ad's for any product that don't show prices, or "prices so low we can't legally show them", especially electronics and cars. These are mostly phony, overpriced, rip-off's. Especially furniture: Resale (Generally a southern auction/liquidator) company buy's a store that's in trouble, doubles/triples or more, the existing prices, then knocks off "2/3" or "3/4" of the Bloated price, Sale "Cuts" that are in fact higher prices than before. No good deals here!!! Also, beware of the "Exchange only for in store Mdse" because the "X-changed for other product puts the new product way above full price", the Bloated price. Be leery of Buy here/Pay here because their products are way over-priced Trash, and the Interest rates generally begin at 25-30% or ABOVE, and the legality of actual ownership can be very cloudy.
Just shop wisely, and avoid any "Pressure" from "College Hotties and Hunks" in Mall walk and public Kiosks, because once you give them a signature or down payment, they will deny ever knowing you, no matter how "Beautiful" they seem.
Shop wisely, compare, and you will have a Merrier Christmas.......
i know what these scammers are about and all of them should get very harsh jail sentences a/o deportation back to their countries of origin. let there be absolutely no mercy for these kind of internet terrorists!
these frauds often scam the elderly,disabled, the unknowledgeable for a quick $bank$ and need to be treated much harsher then the average tax evader
when they are caught. i have gotten store card offers
asking for my e-mail address/home address/phone number. shortly after my families power and internet server's/cable tv were shut-off and/or temporarily disconnected. and went on for most of this summer 2010, and only when i was shopping online. i am more careful with what e-mails i look at or answer.
Also, bad check schemes involving work at home or non-existent jobs. Here is information about spotting bad checks:
Feel free to check these links with McAfee site advisor, Web of Trust, google etc. I do.
Mr. Trifecta says:
1/Less money to spend on special gifts, finds a special gift and worries only that it is the right gift and the money is available.....a gamble but could be good.... Other logic blows out the window...,
2/Naivety, pure and simple.. Old or young.. This can be controlled through repeated instructions or just once burned... Then you are the expert.
3/Self Esteem- Some folks see items of interest and are afraid to call and ask a family member about is or a friend perceiving that the stupid look will appear or the" what are you thinking?"
4/Some are just incurable...
5/ People like Brian are just idiots
They tell you not to show the theater your credit card. I found this out from the movie theater and from a customer service rep from Fandango when I went to pick of my tickets. This is a way for them to steal your identify.
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