Scammers are always on the prowl for their next victim, but there are certain times in the year when they increase activity. Black Friday and Thanksgiving are well behind us, but now criminals are looking toward Christmas.
You should always be vigilant against scam attempts, but Christmas is when you must be extra cautious. Worse, criminals are getting better at hiding their activities, making them challenging to spot.
Read on for some of the most popular holiday scams and what you can do about them.
Here’s the backstory
Christmas is supposed to be a joyous time spent with family and friends. Unfortunately, scammers don’t care much about your festive plans. They only want to steal your money and go to any length to get it.
According to Check Point Research, three scams have increased in usage. All revolve around stealing your money or your gifts.
- Change in banking details. For this scam, criminals impersonate an employee and ask Human Resources to change their banking details. Check Point explains that it has seen an “influx of phishing campaigns” using this method, especially around Christmas, and it can have devastating effects on the employee if HR isn’t vigilant.
- USPS, DHL or UPS verification email. This scam has several variations, but it usually involves an email that seemingly verifies that you made a successful purchase or that your delivery is on the way. There is a link you can click to dispute the purchase or track the order, but it takes you to a malicious website that captures your data.
- Failed delivery scam. Criminals know that people make many purchases over Christmas, which is why this scam is so successful. It is a simple email that explains the delivery couldn’t be made. There is a link so you can reschedule for a different date, but again, it takes you to a malicious website that captures your data.
What you can do about it
All this criminal activity can damper your Christmas spirit, but luckily there are a few things you can do to stay safe.
- Safeguard your information — Never give out personal data if you don’t know the sender of a text or email or can’t verify their identity. Criminals only need your name, email address and telephone number to rip you off.
- Always use 2FA — Use two-factor authentication (2FA) for better security whenever available. Tap or click here for details on 2FA.
- Avoid links and attachments — Don’t click on links or attachments you receive in unsolicited emails. They could be malicious, infect your device with malware and/or steal sensitive information.
- Beware of phishing emails — Thieves will send emails around Christmas claiming to have important details about a purchase that you’ve made. If you think you have business with a retailer, go to its official website to make contact and avoid clicking links in unsolicited emails or texts.
- Use strong, unique passwords — Tap or click here for an easy way to follow this step with password managers.
- Antivirus is vital — Always have a trusted antivirus program updated and running on all your devices. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. Right now, get an annual plan with TotalAV for only $19 at ProtectWithKim.com. That’s over 85% off the regular price!
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