The software security company McAfee has what it calls its "Twelve Scams of Christmasâ€ which they say are the 12 most dangerous online scams that computer users should be cautious of this holiday season.
Scam 1.Phony iPad Offers. Consumers are asked to purchase other products and provide their credit card number to get a free iPad. Of course, victims never receive the iPad or the other items, just the headache of reporting a stolen credit card number. There's even a social media version of the scam where users take a quiz to win a free iPad and must supply their cell phone number to receive the results. Instead they are signed up for a cell phone scam that costs $10 a week.
Scam 2.The "Help! I've Been Robbed" Scam. This travel scam sends phony distress messages to family and friends requesting that money be wired or transferred so that they can get home. There's been an increase in this scam McAfee predicts it will get even worse during the holiday travel period.
Scam 3.Fake Gift Cards. Cyber-thieves 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 identity theft. One recent Facebook scam offered a "free $1,000 Best Buy gift cardâ€ to the first 20,000 people who signed up for a Best Buy fan page, which was a look-a-like. To apply for the gift card they had to provide personal information and take a series of quizzes.
Scam 4. Holiday Job Offers. People seeking extra cash for gifts are vulnerable to this Twitter scam that offers dangerous links to high-paying, work-at-home jobs that ask for your personal information, such as your email address, home address and Social Security number to apply for the fake job.
Scam 5.Smishing is the latest method of extracting info by cybercrooks. They send phishing SMS texts that appear to come from your bank or an online retailer saying that there is something wrong with your 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. Cybercrooks know that people are more vulnerable to this scam during the holiday season when consumers are doing more online shopping and checking bank balances frequently.
Scam 6.Suspicious Holiday Rentals. During peak travel times when consumers often look online for affordable holiday rentals, cyberc-thieves post fake holiday rental sites that ask for down payments on properties by credit card or wire transfer.
Scam 7.Recession Scams. Scammers target vulnerable consumers with recession related scams such as pay-in-advance credit schemes. There have been 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.
Scam 8.Grinch-like Greetings. E-cards are a convenient and earth-friendly way to send greetings to friends and family, but cybercriminals load fake versions with links to computer viruses and other malware instead of cheer. Computers may start displaying obscene images, pop-up ads, or even start sending cards to contacts that appear to come from you.
Scam 9.Low Price Traps. 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.
Scam 10.Charity Scams. The holidays have historically been a prime time for charity scams since it's a traditional time for giving and 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.
Scam 11.Dangerous Holiday Downloads. 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 an instant message that appears to be from a friend.Scam 12, Hotel and Airport Wi-fi. During the holidays many people travel and use free wi-fi in places like hotels and airports. This is a tempting time for thieves to hack into these unsecured and unprotected networks hoping to find opportunities for theft.