Top 5 holiday scams to watch for

The holiday season marks a 25 percent jump in cyberattacks. Here are five common holiday scams to watch out for.

  1. Holiday specials
    Scammers build complete copies of well-known sites, send emails promoting great deals, sell products and take credit card information – but never deliver the goods. Be skeptical about sites that seem to have incredible discounts. Never click on links in emails or popups offering deep discounts for watches, phones or tablets; go to the legitimate website through your browser instead to find out if that offer is real.
  2. Complimentary vouchers or gift cards
    A popular holiday scam offers big discounts on gift cards. Whether they come by email or as social media posts, don't fall for these. Some posts or emails could even appear to be shared by a friend (who might have been hacked).  Think before you click on offers or attachments.
  3. Bogus shipping notices from UPS and FedEx
    You could see emails supposedly from UPS and FedEx in your inbox that claim a problem with your package delivery. Many of these are phishing attacks luring  you to  click on a link or open an attachment that infects your computer with a virus or “ransomware.” Ransomware encrypts the victim’s files and then a ransom is demanded to unlock them.
  4. Holiday refund scams
    These emails seem to come from retail chains or e-commerce sites such as Amazon and eBay and claim  a problematic transaction  prompting you to click a refund link. The link leads to a form to collect your personal information, which will them be sold.
  5. Phishing on the dark side
    One very focused  phishing email tricks people into thinking they could win tickets for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," due in movie theaters Dec. 18. However, the email is a phishing attack. Remember to be skeptical of links and attachments.

Bonus tips

Questions or comments?

Do you have a security-related question or suggestion or want to comment on this article? Contact the IT security officer.

Published Dec 1, 2015

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