Holidays are the most popular time of the year for cyber criminals to deploy their scams. Halloween is no different, as many people love to share Halloween related stuff with their friends and family. The most popular scam is the distribution of scareware. According to McAfee, cybercriminals make upwards of $300 million from conning web users worldwide into downloading scareware. Cyber criminals try to fool users into believing their computers are infected and in turn try to peddle the user into purchasing fake antivirus programs and other rogue software to remove the infections. Cyber criminals also set up websites that look like legitimate online businesses to steal your personal information.Holiday Scams

10 Ways to Prevent being Scammed

  1. Web sites looking like legitimate businesses to solicit personal or account information. Businesses such as banks will never ask for personal information by way of email. To be sure you don’t fall victim, download the WOT add-on which shows you which websites you can trust for safe surfing, shopping and searching on the web.
  2. Never click on any links in an e-mail from businesses or people that you do not know. Links can be spoofed – the displayed text isn’t necessarily the true web address and/or destination.
  3. Never “unsubscribe” to an email in which you’re not familiar with. When you respond or click the “unsubscribe” link, the sender takes your email address and adds it to a database. It’s best to mark the email as spam and delete the email.
  4. Cyber Criminals will use major news events to trick their victims by sending email with a subject line related to the event and including an attachment that could contain a virus.
  5. Beware of e-Bay and PayPal phishing e-mails. Cyber criminals know that email is not as effective as it use to be and now they’re setting up fake call centers so that you phone-in and give your personal information after you receive the e-mail.
  6. Cyber criminals do make mistakes and if you take the time to read an email you can probably find spelling or grammatical errors.
  7. Keep your computer software and security programs updated!
  8. Avoid work-at home scams! During the holiday season you may receive an email that claims such as; “make more money by Christmas.” Scammers often make money by collecting other people’s personal information and then reselling it or using it illicitly themselves. They will require people to pay money upfront for materials and other expenses.
  9. Only purchase from trusted sources that you have bookmarked. These sites always have SSL Server Certificates when you check out to make a purchase. You should see a lock in the bottom left of your browser, click on the lock to view the certificated information.
  10. When joining a social network like Facebook, it’s better not to reveal too much personal information since this can be used for phishing scams.

What to do if you’ve been scammed?

  • If you think there’s a fraudulent change on your credit card, no matter how small, call your bank and immediately dispute it.
  • Report it! is perhaps the best site for reporting fraud in the US. The NFIC accepts reports about attempts to defraud consumers on the telephone or the Internet.
  • Fraud Avoidance and Reporting – provides excellent fraud prevention and reporting resources to help you.
  • File your complaint with the FTC. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Click on the link or call the FTC’s identity theft hotline toll-free at 1 (877) IDTHEFT or (877)-438-4338. The hotline is staffed by counselors trained to help victims and take their complaints.

Related Articles
Beware of the Citibank Phishing Scam
USAA Online Banking Alert Scam
Wachovia Quick Alert Phishing Scam
Visa Account Confirmation Phishing Scam
PayPal Notification Scam

Be smart this holiday season!