Holiday Phishing Scams: 10 Things To Lookout For

It’s the season for holiday giving, and pretty soon our inboxes and social media feeds will abound with advertisements.

Of course, the majority of these are legitimate and likely from organizations you can trust. However, it’s prime time for fraudsters and scammers! They sneak in there with phony emails and posts that may contain malicious links, ecards, shipping labels, and click-through advertisements.

Online shoppers should take extra precautions while making purchases from the comfort of their home or office.  The convenience of online shopping gives hackers multiple ways to access personal and financial information of unsuspecting consumers through fraudulent emails, tapping into vulnerable computers via virus,  and intercepting insecure transactions (if a vendor does not use encryption, an attacker may be able to intercept your information as it is being transferred).

This isn’t to say stay away from all online shopping – it just means to be aware of what you are clicking and the sites you are accessing.

Here are ways you can protect yourself when online shopping or giving this season, and year-round:

  • Make sure the vendor is reputable. Some attackers may try to trick you by mimicking the site and brand of an organization. Be wary when clicking on links that direct you to the site. Make note of the phone number and address of the vendor in case you notice anything funny with your bill.

  • Think twice before clicking on links in emails asking for your information {link to red flags article}, such as confirming your purchase or account information. This is not something legitimate businesses would ask of their customers via email.

  • Make sure your information is encrypted. Encrypted sites have the url as “https” instead of “http” and show a closed padlock icon either in the top of the address bar or bottom of the browser window.

This is also the time of year where charities will reach out for end of year gifts, and those same scammers are out there, ready to take advantage of your generosity.

Here are some warning signs to watch out for:

  • The organization uses a name that is very similar to a well-known, reputable charity

  • Contacts you to thank you for a pledge you don’t remember making

  • Asks for cash donations or wire transfer

  • Uses high-pressure tactics to get you to donate

  • Offers prizes in exchange for a donation

  • Will not provide proof that your donation is tax-deductible

  • Does not provide information on how your money will be used

If you think you may be a victim of a holiday phishing scam, contact the police, alert your financial institution and immediately change your passwords.  If you’re aware of what to look out for, have strong passwords, and take the proper security precautions, then you’re in good shape to enjoy the online sales and get into the spirit of giving.

From all of us at Sure Systems, we wish you a safe and stress-free holiday season!