'Tis The Season to Be Wary of Online Scams

In the countdown to the holiday season,  millions of people around the world are going to go online to buy presents for friends and family, search for holidays, book tickets for a big gig or send...
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'Tis The Season to Be Wary of Online Scams

by News Editor on December 9th, 2014 in Security Tips.

In the countdown to the holiday season,  millions of people around the world are going to go online to buy presents for friends and family, search for holidays, book tickets for a big gig or send an electronic Christmas card.

What many do not realise is the hidden threat we now face from criminals online. They are targeting internet shoppers with scams which, on the surface promise to save them time and money, but in reality only deliver festive heartache and misery.

Don’t fall into the traps and be a victim. Here are  the 12 most common online frauds of Christmas.

Online shopping fraud
However, buyers need to be aware that fraudsters are looking to take
advantage of this massive demand by creating bogus websites to
advertise counterfeit goods and services that are often poor quality/unsafe,
or items that will never be delivered.

Christmas e-cards
An increasing number of Christmas cards are being sent via
email. Many are genuine; however, be aware that cyber-criminals
are creating their own versions, which you do not want to open.
The email may contain a virus (malware) that will embed itself
onto your electronic device – all without your knowledge – and
then collect personal data, financial information, passwords and
usernames which can then be used to commit fraud.

Auction fraud
Auction sites, such as eBay or Gumtree, are a popular way to
buy Christmas presents. Whilst the majority of items on sale
are genuine, there may also be some items for sale that are
either counterfeit or do not even exist. Fraudsters use the
festive period as an opportunity to ‘sell’ popular items such as
smartphones, gadgets and ‘designer’ clothing at low prices on
auction sites. Please tread carefully before making a purchase.
In reality, the chances are that the goods do not exist or what
you receive will be a pale imitation of the legitimate version.

Holiday fraud
During or just after the festive period many people are keen
to take a few days away, often in search of some sunshine or
snow. With the expense of buying Christmas presents most
will be going online on the look-out for a deal. However, it is
important to be aware of fraudsters advertising fake holidays
on websites or social media. These often come in the form of
cheap ‘too good to miss’ package trips, bargain-booking offers
for villas and ski chalets or calls and texts offering tempting
last-minute deals

Loan and investment scams
There is an increase in online loan applications at this time of
year as people seek to cover the costs of the festive period.
Fraudsters will exploit this opportunity by intercepting applications
to legitimate lenders or by creating their own bogus company
websites. You may also be tempted to put your money into an
investment scheme which promises high returns and low/no risk.

Ticketing fraud
Creating wonderful memories is a part of the magic of Christmas
and what better present to give than tickets to a rock concert
or a sporting event? However, there are many bogus websites
offering fake tickets. A tried and trusted formula for fraudsters is to
offer cheap deals for tickets to events that have already sold out.
In reality the tickets do not exist and anyone who tries to buy one
will end up losing their money and a memorable day or night out.

Donating to charity
The festive period is traditionally a time when charities seek
donations. Most collections and appeals are legitimate but be
aware fraudsters are looking to exploit our charitable nature
and steal donations. One of the most common ways of doing
this is online

Mobile malware/malicious apps
Many people will be getting smartphones or tablets for Christmas.
Cyber-criminals are constantly developing new ways to infect
these devices through malicious apps or through infected
websites/URLs. Although most malware is found on the Android
operating system there have also been recent cases of strains
being developed for Apple’s iOS.

Money transfers
An authentic online seller will ask you to pay by card on a secure
payment page, or occasionally by cheque. However tempted
you are because ‘it’s the last one in stock’ or it’s ‘two days before
Christmas’, never transfer money directly into the seller’s bank
account. As well as at Christmas time, there are many situations
where you may be asked to transfer money to other people and
there are a number of respectable services you can use. But be
aware fraudsters are also looking to cash-in by persuading people
to transfer money for products and services that do not exist.

Social media scams
Most of the adverts placed on networking sites such as
Facebook and Twitter are genuine. However fraudsters are also
advertising give-aways and offers in the hope that people will
click on these bogus adverts and be redirected to a website full
of scams. Cyber-criminals may also be on the hunt for personal
details which can be used to steal people’s identities and commit
fraudulent transactions

Dating/romance scam
Many singletons will be making a New Year’s resolution to find
their ideal partner and signing up to an online dating website.
This can be a great way to find true love but you also need to
be on the lookout for fraudsters trying to win your affection and
then asking for money to pay for them to visit you or help out
with a family problem. Do not listen to promises of repayment –
better to sever contact and look elsewhere

Mobile payments
More and more people are using mobile devices, especially
smartphones to make purchases. Data is usually stored in the
phone’s memory and may be compromised if the device is
‘hacked’ or stolen

Source: Action Fraud

Average: 1 (1 vote)

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