The 12 Scams of Christmas, as Detailed by McAfee
Article by George Norman
On 30 Nov 2009
The Christmas holidays are just around the corner. Regular computer users will focus on spreading the holiday cheer, on finding the perfect Christmas gift and so on. The people with malicious intent on the other hand will try to scam these regular users.

McAfee, company that specializes in providing security software solutions for home and business users, has highlighted the 12 scams that you should be on the lookout this time of year. There are plenty of people with malicious intent out there and they would like nothing more than to scam you out of some money – or they would like to get your computer infected. Either way, it is not something you would like to have happen to you.


"The bad guys know people are spending more time online, they're paying more bills online so [the criminals] stand a chance of being a bit more successful this time of year,” commented McAfee’s David Marcus.

Here are the 12 Scams of Christmas you should be on the lookout, as detailed by McAfee’s David Marcus.

1. Charity Phishing Attempts

You will receive an email that seems to originate from a legitimate charity. You’ll be asked to visit the charity’s site and make a donation. Fail to spot the phishing attempt and the bad guys will steal your credit card information and identity. If you want to donate money for a good cause, go directly to the charity’s website. Do not click a link you received in a spam message.

2. Fake invoices

Spammers will send out fake invoices and delivery notifications that seem to originate from UPS, the Postal Service, the US Customs Service or Federal Express. The spam message says UPS or Federal Express or whatever tried to deliver a package to your address but failed. You are invited to confirm your address and provide your credit card info – because someone has to pay for the delivery.

3. Bogus friend requests on social networking sites
This one is pretty much self-explanatory, but here’s the lowdown just in case: you will receive an email that looks like a genuine friend request (from Facebook for example). Click the link included in the email and you could be taken to a malware spreading site. Or you could be taken to a site that looks like Facebook, but in fact is a phishing site that attempts to steal your login credentials.

4. Holiday e-cards
Be weary of any e-card you receive, especially if the e-card comes from a webpage you’ve never heard of. If a card looks legitimate, make sure it comes from someone you know. Holiday e-cards are generally used to distribute malware, popups and unwanted advertising.
If you want to send out holiday e-cards, make sure you use a reputable service. Otherwise you might end up infecting yourself and your friends.

5. Luxury gifts
Luxury gifts from Cartier, Gucci, Tag Heuer and such, are expensive. If you see an offer for luxury gifts that’s too good to be true, then chances are it is a scam. There are three things that could happen:
1 – the link will take you to a malware spreading site.
2 – your order, if you decide to purchase a luxury gift, will never be honored.
3 – if the “luxury gift” is delivered to you, chances are the product is a fake.

6. Safe holiday shopping

Make sure you do your online shopping on secure sites. If you use a public hotspot, make sure your wireless network is secure, make sure your security software is up-to-date, and make sure your firewall is up and running.

7. Christmas-related media
During this time of the year people will look for festive media such as Christmas music, carol lyrics, holiday graphics and so on. The bad guys know this and will set up fraudulent Christmas-related sites. They will also poison search results to lure you to a fraudulent site.

8. Job search scams
Be weary of any high paying job offer or work-from-home money making scheme. Fraudulent sites promise to deliver some quick money making scheme, but they ask for money up front. Pay and you will only be lining the pockets of people with malicious intent. Not to mention that these people, now that they have your credit card info, will be able to misuse it.

9. Fake auction sites

During the holiday season the number of fake auction sites sees a significant increase. If you want to access a auction site such as eBay, make sure you’re actually on eBay, not some look-alike.

10. Password stealing scams

In some cases, the bad guys will plant key loggers to record keystrokes and thus steal your password. With your password in hand, they can access your online banking account or email account.

11. Email banking scams

This is just another phishing attempt. You will receive an email that claims to be from your bank. The email includes a link – you are asked to click the link and access your online banking account. Click the link and you will be directed to a phishing site, not your bank’s site.

12. Ransomware
Malware may compromise your system and lock down your data files. The malware will then ask you to pay a certain amount of money to regain access to your data.

Tags: McAfee, Security, Christmas, Scams
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
You can follow him on Google+, Facebook or Twitter

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