‘Tis the season of caroling, candy canes, and crowded mall parking lots. It’s also a scam artist’s favorite time of year.
During the holidays, we tend to let our guards down more in an effort to help others. This makes us more vulnerable to holiday scams and fraud.
Each year the FBI comes up with a list of the most popular holiday scams. This year it focuses on threats from cyber criminals.
Top Holiday Scams of 2015:
The busiest online shopping days immediately follow Thanksgiving, the infamous Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The FBI warns of deals online that seem too good to be true because they probably are. Once you make your purchase of one of these deals, the product will never be delivered but the criminals will have all your personal information at their fingertips.
Fraudulent Gift Cards
This is the grandaddy of all the holiday scams online since more people innocently fall for this than any other. To put that into perspective the National Retail Federation estimates more than 80% of shoppers plan on buying gift cards this year.
It starts with an ad for a free gift card (promoted via social media usually), in exchange for signing up for a store fan page or completing a survey. Little does the person know, behind the scenes an identity thief is hard at work. Think carefully before clicking on one of these ads!
You may have already seen this scam in action as well, the phony refund. An email or message claims there was a “wrong transaction” made and wants you to click on a link for a refund. Doing so will infect your computer or device with malware—not good. Popular refund scams this year are targeting Amazon and hotels.
Bah Humbug Greeting
Another email to look out for is an e-greeting or card from an email address you don’t recognize. These greetings are usually very good looking and seem legitimate, but again after you click malware and spyware are installed on your device. These greetings are unfortunately sent out by the millions and can be difficult to trace so the criminals often times go unpunished.
As a business owner, if your computers and devices are infected with cyber criminal software, your clients’ and customers’ private information could be at stake.
There you have it, the top holiday scams for 2015. If you believe you’ve become a victim you can easily file a complaint with the FBI by visiting their Internet Crime Compalint Center at www.IC3.gov.
And one last tip, when using a Wi-Fi signal in a public place never, ever use your credit card. Better to be safe than sorry!
Plus, stay tuned for an upcoming blog post about safely donating to charities during this holiday season.
Zachariah B. Parry is an attorney and founding partner at the law firm Parry & Pfau and is an adjunct professor who teaches torts, contracts, and Nevada practice and procedure for UNLV’s paralegal program. He can be reached at 702-912-4451 or firstname.lastname@example.org.