The holidays are supposed to be a time for you to make memories with your family, enjoy good food, good company and good spirits. However, not everyone is so jolly during the holiday season and for criminals, all the giving and goodwill spells opportunity. Knowing their tactics can help you protect yourself from becoming a victim this Christmas. Read on to discover some of the ways criminals target people during the holidays.
This is a Facebook scam and it involves you playing what you think is an online game. The game is simple – you just drag a little Santa or other themed image across the screen. This innocuous action actually hides what’s really going on. You think you’re dragging Santa, but in reality, you’re clicking a hidden link. Avoid it by avoiding games to appear as pop-ups on Facebook or as links in other people’s profiles.
This happens when you visit a site that you aren’t familiar with (usually through a link from an ad with a promising discount) and a program is automatically downloaded onto your computer without you knowing. Avoid this scam by only visiting familiar sites and resisting bargains that seem too good to be true.
During the holidays many people choose to give to charities or organizations. However, when a scammer sends an email disguised as a holiday donation request, the thoughtful gift can be more than the giver bargained for. Soon, you’re turning over your personal information, giving the hacker access to bank accounts and Paypal accounts. To avoid this, don’t click links in your email. Instead, type the URL in directly and verify the source is trusted.
This is similar to Email phishing except it happens on your phone. Resist the urge to give to charities or groups that use text advertisements. Most legitimate companies won’t ever look for donations via text message.
Infections from trusted sites
During this time of the year, hackers place malicious software on trusted, well-known sites in an attempt to gather information. Usually, these appear as pop-up ads, so to combat it you should enable your pop-up blocker or download an ad-blocker.
The apps you download on your phone or on Facebook could be sophisticated attempts by hackers to gather your personal information. Always read the list of information that an app requires before you download it to avoid falling victim to over sharing.
Fake Google results
If you search for a popular toy or product on Google, you’re sure to come across at least one fake website. The fake sites contain malicious software or viruses that can harm your computer and put you at risk for identity theft. To avoid this, only click on sites you know and trust.
This is one of the more sophisticated ways that hackers can get your personal information. It starts when you log on to a wireless connection at a public location and then browse the web. Sometimes a hacker can silently sneak into your computer and gather your passwords as you type them. To avoid this, resist the urge to tap into popular public wi-fi spots while you’re out doing your holiday shopping.
Like forced browsing, this allows hackers to see what you’re dong on your computer when you’re connected to wi-fi. To avoid this, use the internet on your phone or go through a site that establishes a private internet connection before you begin browsing.
This is a technique thieves use to gather information about you via social media. Everything you write and put out for the world to see can potentially be used by thieves. For example, don’t write on your Facebook page that you’ll be out of town for a while. That’s like issuing an invitation to be robbed.
Staying smart about your cyber security during the holiday seasons can prevent you from becoming a victim. Be vigilant and protect yourself so you don’t get more than you bargained for during the holiday season.