Festive season scams and how to avoid them

By: Dan Demetry, Information Security Manager

There’s no good time of year for cybercrimes. If you shop, bank, or do anything online (and who doesn’t?) you need to be vigilant at all times. Unfortunately, with the busy holiday shopping season upon us, it can be easier than usual to get “too busy” to protect yourself. And that’s where cybercriminals can get the upper hand.

To help you stay on guard, we’ve put together some commonly seen scams and some tips on how to avoid them.

Fake specials/coupons/vouchers

If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. Fake specials/coupons/vouchers are a particular favorite for scammers, as they are easy to execute and offer big paydays for criminals.

Online advertisements direct consumers to fake websites for famous brands that are virtually indistinguishable from the actual website you think you’re going to. From there, any personal information you enter is in the hands of someone you didn’t intend.

To avoid being a victim of this scam:

  • Check the URL
    • Watch for things such as extra/missing letters and random numbers. A hacker might make a fake website for NIKE.COM using N1KE.COM
  • Type the website in yourself instead of clicking on links
  • If it looks too good to be true, it probably is
  • Don’t click on links or open documents in emails/text messages you were not expecting

Credit card fraud

Criminals can source credit card data in various ways such as phishing, vishing, malware, and data breaches. Credit card fraud is also popular because transactions only rely on two-steps: authorization and settlement.

To avoid falling prey to credit card fraud:

  • Do not enter credit card data online unless you know you can trust the website
    • If you are unsure about a company, search for the physical address of that company
  • Use different PINS for different cards – and different passwords for different online accounts
  • Check statements and update your passwords regularly
  • Set up SMS payment notifications through your bank to be alerted when transactions are made

With the number of online transactions you make likely on the rise at this time of year, we hope these tips can help protect your personal information both now, and in the years to come.