McAfee Reveals The 12 Scams of Christmas

By Charlotte Bumstead
More and more shoppers are looking to buy online this holiday season, taking advantage of discounts and avoiding the last-minute department store craze. But this efficient method of purchasing can quickly become as painful, or worse, than long lines and pushy customers. Booking holiday travel plans online also poses certain risks. Threats of stolen identity and/or financial information are everywhere as criminals linger in the cyber world. McAfee shares their security expertise to help consumers block unwanted attacks and to spread awareness of the dangers online. They call it the 12 Scams of Christmas.

1) Free iPad! Think again. Apple products are all the rage this season, and scammers are well alert. Beware of phony offers such as; “spend over $100, and receive a free iPad!” Also, avoid taking online quizzes or surveys with a similar proposal. Users are commonly tricked into providing a cell phone number and signing up for a cell phone scam costing them $10 a week. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

2) Hide your big heart. A travel scam is sending fake messages of distress, asking family and friends to wire or transfer money to bring a loved one back home.

3) Free gift card? Probably not. Recently, a Facebook scam offered a “free $1,000 Best Buy gift card” to the first 200,000 people to sign up for a Best Buy fan page. Be wary of the look-a-likes asking for personal information; it could be an act of identity theft.

4) Fake job offers. A high-paying job where you get to work from home is tempting for anyone. What’s the catch, you ask? The job doesn’t exist; it’s a scam to get your personal information and social security number.

5) Banking text messages. Cyber crooks are using SMS texts that appear to be sent from your bank or an online retailer, stating something is wrong with your account. It is a deceptive strategy used to acquire valuable personal information.

6) Watch what you rent. As consumers search for affordable travel deals online, cybercriminals post fraudulent holiday rental offers asking for down payments by credit card or wire transfer.

7) Recession scammers. McAfee continues to discover multiple emails directed at vulnerable consumers, with offers for prequalified, low-interest loans and credit cards.

8) Happy holidays—here’s a virus! Fake e-cards sending holiday cheer are not as they appear. Cyber crooks attach links leading to computer viruses and other malware; then they pass them along to your friends, impersonating you as the sender.

9) Unbelievable deals. If the price is beyond belief, then you probably shouldn’t trust it. Multiple scam websites offer prices way lower than competitors to draw you in and steal your money.

10) Donation dangers. Feeling the spirit of giving this season? You better be sure the charity is genuine, first. These scammers show no sympathy, and they often imitate charities used for veterans, children, or the latest relief fund as a scheme to take your money.

11) Festive screen-savers that don’t actually save anything. Holiday-themed downloads are dangerous, as they pose risks for spreading viruses and other computer threats.

12) Hotel Wi-Fi hackers. Free public Wi-Fi is to scammers, as a playground is to children—they never want to leave. Be especially aware of spam email, unknown links and unusual prices in such circumstances. Use well-established websites and trusted Wi-Fi networks, and don’t check bank accounts or shop online if you are unsure of the security level.