December 2020 Newsletter
The holidays are among the busiest times of the year for e-commerce and online shopping. At this peak time of online activity, seasonal sales and deals from retailers, scammers are looking to take advantage of unaware shoppers.
Cybercriminals are sure to use the holiday season to their advantage, but there are ways to avoid being scammed. Here’s an overview of the most common seasonal scams and red flags to watch for.
Fake shipping or postal notifications:
These types of phishing attacks are most common during the holidays, but with the prevalence of online shopping, it’s good to keep an eye out year-round. Scammers send fake notifications that appear to come from postal service companies such as FedEx or UPS. The emails include dangerous links that, if clicked, could install malware on your device or take you to a fake login page where your credentials will be stolen.
To avoid these scams, always log in to your online account or service through your browser—not through links in unexpected emails.
Scam travel deals and offers:
Scammers know their potential victims travel for holidays throughout the year. Cybercriminals send emails offering fake travel deals from well-known travel sites. They’re even known to create phony websites for cheap hotels and flights so they can rob you of your money.
What can you do? When something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Never click on links in emails you aren’t expecting. Before booking a trip through an unfamiliar service, do your research and ensure the company is legitimate.
Social media deals and sales:
A paid advertisement you see in your social media feed might seem trustworthy, but be warned: Anyone can pay to put an ad on social media. During holidays and popular shopping seasons, fraudsters buy ads that offer appealing deals—considering that social media ads target the buyer market. The ads typically contain phishing links that lead to fraudulent websites where they will steal your credit card data. Even if the malicious ad is reported and removed, criminals typically only need one victim to fall for their trick to make it worth their investment.
Always hover your mouse over links and URLs before clicking to check whether the URL will take you to a phishing site. If a social media ad appears to be from a company you’re familiar with, check the company’s website instead of clicking on links from the ad.
During this busy shopping season, you’re likely to find deals from your favorite retailers, but be aware, too, of the risks from phishing and scams. Diligence and cautious browsing can help you avoid being tricked.