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Archive for the ‘christmas’ tag

The 12 Scams of Christmas, 2011!   no comments

Posted at Dec 21, 2011 @ 3:07pm Holidays

The holidays bring cheer, presents and a fresh new round of scams to our Internet. It’s a time of year when folks are busy shopping online and we’re all feeling a little more giving. Unfortunately, our giving attitudes and rush to get gifts for everyone on our lists make us likely targets for the opportunistic crooks in our midst. So hunker down, have a cup of cocoa and learn how to protect yourself from the 12 scams of Christmas, 2011!  Thanks to the folks over at McAfee for reprising the list! We’ve included some from them and some others we’ve seen in our own travels. Enjoy!

1. Online Shopping

Everyone buys gifts online these days. It’s a great way to find the perfect items without having to leave the comfort of your home. But beware of the scam store! If you’re shopping somewhere unfamiliar, be careful to check out the store’s credentials. Otherwise you may purchase a gift that never arrives.

2. Mobile Malware

As mobile devices become ever more popular, malware that targets them does too. As more consumers than ever use their mobile devices to shop, check bank accounts and redeem coupons, more of us are in danger. You should pay particular attention to QR codes this year. Malware exploits the little black and whites to gain access to your phone (particularly Androids).

3. Fake Apps

Who doesn’t love apps? They’re cute, cheap and entertaining. Unfortunately there are many malicious apps out there that will steal information from smart phones or send out expensive fake texts. They’re often masquerading as games or cute applications.

4. Fake Antivirus Software

It’s ironic: you get this stuff to protect you from viruses and here it is causing them! Fake antivirus software or scareware, as it’s now known, frightens users into installing it with a fake alert about an active infection. Once the user clicks “install” the real infection takes hold.

5. Scammy Facebook Promotions

Facebook is chock full of fake promotions, contests and prizes. While this is always true, users are particularly susceptible around the holidays. Protect yourself from this one by simply refusing to click! Just say no. If something seems too good to be true… well… you know the rest.

6. Holiday Screen Savers

They’re so cute: Rudolph and his glinting nose, 3D santa, a festive tree, but be careful! Downloading anything from a site you don’t know and trust can be dangerous. The scariest part is you may never know you were infected!

7. Mac Malware

This is a first! Until recently Mac users have been protected from your typical spammy malware, but not so anymore. According to McAfee, there were 5,000 pieces of malware targeting Macs at the end of 2010. You better believe that number is only going up.

8. Phishing at the Holidays

Phishing scams are a matter of course all year round, but at the holidays they take on a decidedly trickier hue. Many holiday phishing scams claim to be charities, social holiday greetings from friends or coupons for holiday shopping. Always be suspicious of any unsolicited communications!

9. Online Coupons

Speaking of coupons, watch out for them! Everyone is looking for coupons while they’re doing holiday shopping, and scammers know it. Most coupon scams involve entering personal information. Never enter personal information on an unfamiliar or untrusted site.

10. Mystery Shopper Scams

Who doesn’t want to be a mystery shopper? It’s a fun job doing what you already enjoy (if you’re like me). In this tough economy, many people are looking for extra work to make ends meet around the holidays. If you’re attracted by a mystery shopper job offer, beware. Don’t enter any personal information and you’ll be safe.

11. Tickle Me Elmo

Okay, so this particular “it” gift isn’t so much the rage anymore, but every year there is some toy or gadget that everyone simply must have. Scammers love to use that raw desire to their own advantage. If you see that special something offered for a deep discount or on a strange website, don’t bite. Read all the text carefully. Poorly written copy is often one of the only signs that a scam isn’t the real deal.

12. Away From Home

This is an old-fashioned scam in a new-fashioned world. Don’t announce on Facebook that you’re going out of town. You might not realize it, but chances are good you’ve got some followers you don’t know all that well. Chances are even better that they’ve got followers you know even less. Take a simple precaution and keep your travel plans to yourself.

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Written by admin on December 21st, 2011

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The 12 Scams of Christmas, 2010   no comments

Posted at Dec 14, 2010 @ 3:18pm Web hosting

Time for family, friends, food, presents, festivities and crime! Last year I wrote about the 12 scams of Christmas, and got a lot of positive feedback. So, I decided to write an updated 12 scams list for 2010, with help from the folks over at McAfee. Unfortunately, scams always seem to ramp up with everything else around the holidays. Be sure to watch out for these tricks to keep yourself safe this holiday season.

Scam 1: Free iPads
You’ve undoubtedly already seen links for free iPad offers this holiday season, and hopefully you haven’t fallen prey. With the iPad topping the charts for the most sought after new tech gadget, these scams are sure to ramp up as the big day approaches. This scam is rampant on social media sites where visitors are asked to take a survey for a free iPad. Be wary of any survey that asks you to submit any personal information. Often these will ask for your cell phone number and then will bill you for $10/week.

Scam 2: Social Networking – A Cybercriminal “Wants to be Your Friend”
I know how flattering it is to think perfect strangers want to be friends, but beware. This year there are more fake profiles than ever. These scammers are out to install malware on your PC and steal your password. And you just wanted to be friends!

Scam 3: Charity Phishing Scams – Be Careful Who You Give To
It’s a low down, dirty game but this scam hits you when you deserve it the least (not that you ever deserve it, but you know what I mean). Watch out for emails claiming to be from a charitable organization. They might contain links to fake websites set up to steal your donations and/or personal information.

Scam 4: Fake Gift Cards
Gift cards are extremely popular this year—in fact we ran our own gift card promotion in September. Like many other scams, fake gift card offers ask for your personal information. When in doubt, DON’T PROVIDE IT. Stay safe.

Scam 5: Help Me Overseas!
This variation on the overseas needy gets personal when scam artists hack into email accounts and send fake distress messages to family and friends. The scammers ask for wired money, claiming dire straits in foreign lands. Before sending money, give your loved one a call and make sure they really need help.

Scam 6: Fake Job Offers
This is a real heartbreaker—fake job offers targeting the out-of-work and desperate. You’ve likely encountered plenty of these scams on classified sites and otherwise legitimate job listing sites. Any time you see the words “work at home” or “I made x amount of dollars in one week” or anything else that seems too good to be true, IT IS. Avoid these scams at all costs, and protect your personal information!

Scam 7: Smishing
This silly word refers to a very serious crime. Smishing is phishing via SMS text messages sent directly to your phone. They appear to come from a retailer or your bank, and have already fooled many consumers who aren’t used to receiving spam on their phones.

Scam 8: Holiday Rentals
Many people are looking for nice rental properties for their families during the holiday season. Never send anyone a down payment unless you’re sure they’re legitimate. Use rental sites with consumer protection, and be sure to google names and locations for more information. Often, people that have been duped before you will post their experiences online to protect future consumers. Make the most of this early alarm system.

Scam 9:  The Dangers of Holiday E-Cards
Happy Holidays! Celebrate with the gift of malware. ‘Tis the season! This scam was popular last year too, and apparently it works because it’s making the list again. Beware.

Scam 10: The Recession Money Scams
This is another one that’s been around for years: low-interest and pay day loans. Don’t buy the hype: free money isn’t free! Pay-in-advance credit cards are another popular one this year.

Scam 11: Holiday-Themed Downloads
Downloads are the easiest way for cyber criminals to install malware on your computer. Be wary of holiday screensavers, apps, jingles and animations, even if the link is sent by a friend. Scammers are increasingly using the names and information they collect to target friends and family members of the stolen addressee. It’s a sad thing, but you really can’t trust anyone—even people you know.

Scam 12: Price Traps
Any time you see a deal for something you want at a price far below market, beware. Many cyber criminals are using popular classified sites to post fake deals for popular brands. Always make sure the URL of the website you’re on corresponds with the company.


It’s a scary Internet out there but you can protect yourself by keeping your security software up to date and your wits about you. Avoid strange links, don’t open weird attachments, and keep your chin up!

We hope you have a safe, happy and crime-free holiday!

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Written by admin on December 14th, 2010

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