If you get an email offer for a free iPad or gift voucher in the weeks leading up to Christmas, chances are it’s a scam. McAfee has revealed the Twelve Scams of Christmas that Australian consumers should be aware of in the next coming weeks.The company has found that consumers are lured into providing their credit card number in order to get a free iPad. In the social media version of the scam, users take a quiz to win a free iPad and must supply their mobile number to receive the results.
Scammers are also sending fraudulent distress messages to family and friends requesting that money be wired or transferred so that they can ‘get home’. This is what the company calls the Help! I’ve Been Robbed scam.
In addition, cybercriminals use social media to promote fake gift card offers with the goal of stealing consumers’ information and money, which is then sold to marketers or used for ID theft.
Scammers also target those who are looking for extra cash for gifts this holiday season. They use Twitter to provide links to high-paying, work-at-home jobs that ask for your personal information, such as your email and home address to apply for the fake job.
“Smishing,” or sending phishing SMS texts will also be prevalent in the next coming weeks. According to McAfee, 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,” said the company.
Those going on a holiday should be wary of a holiday rental scam. Cybercrooks post fake holiday rental sites that ask for down payments on properties by credit card or bank transfer.
Vulnerable consumers will also be targeted with GFC-related scams such as pay-in-advance credit schemes. McAfee Labs has seen a significant number of spam emails advertising prequalified, low-interest loans and credit cards if the recipient pays a processing fee, which goes directly into the scammer’s pocket.
While e-cards are a convenient and earth-friendly way to send greetings to friends and family, it may also be a great opportunity for cybercriminals to load fake versions with links to computer viruses and other malware.
Online shoppers should be cautious of products offered at prices far below 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.
The holidays have historically been a prime time for charity scams since it’s a traditional time for giving, and McAfee Labs predicts that this year is no exception. 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.
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 email or IM that appears to be from a friend.
Finally, the company warns users to take care when using 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,” said the company.