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The Danger of Holiday Phishing Scams

How to Recognize and Avoid Holiday Phishing Scams to Stay Safe This Holiday Season

The holiday season is in full swing, which means so are the cybercriminals! While you’re making holiday gift lists, they’re plotting and scheming new ways to take advantage of unsuspecting online shoppers. Holiday phishing scams have become an all-too-common threat, targeting customers to steal personal information, financial data and even identities.

To help reduce the chances that a cybercriminal will ruin your much-deserved holiday fun, we’ve outlined a few of the most common and dangerous scams that you should be on the lookout for, how they work and tips to help you avoid becoming their next victim. 

Understanding Holiday Phishing Scams

Phishing is a deceptive technique cybercriminals use to trick individuals into sharing sensitive information such as passwords, credit card details or Social Security numbers. During the holiday season, these scams often take on a festive disguise, tricking victims with holiday-themed emails, messages and websites. Whether you’re ordering gifts for clients or friends and family, here are some common tactics used by holiday phishing scammers to be aware of: 

  1. Holiday-Themed E-mails: Scammers send emails that appear to be from trusted sources like your favorite retailers or even beloved charities. These emails look legit and usually offer fake exclusive holiday deals, order confirmations or requests for donations. Inside the email, there is usually a link that leads to a fake website designed to steal your information or your money, or even install dangerous malware on your computer. 
  2. Fake Promotions: Cybercriminals create fake holiday promotions and discounts that seem too good to be true. Unsuspecting victims see a great deal from a spoof email account and are enticed to click on links or download attachments that can contain malware or lead to phishing websites.Sometimes cybercriminals aren’t looking to install malware but instead hoping to steal your money. They’ll duplicate popular retailer websites or set up their own, so when you make a purchase, they’ll collect the money, but you’ll never receive your order. These sites are often difficult to track, making it hard to get your money back.
  3. Delivery Notifications: With the increase in online shopping during the holidays, scammers send fake delivery notifications, claiming that a package is on its way or that theres a problem with an order. These emails may prompt recipients to click on links or download attachments containing malicious software.
  4. Social Engineering: Scammers may impersonate friends or family members via email or social media, asking for money or personal information under the guise of a holiday emergency or gift exchange. This is a common scam against seniors who might not realize that the profile requesting money from them that was made three days ago isn’t actually their granddaughter and young teenagers who don’t know fake profiles are an issue.

Recognizing and Avoiding Holiday Phishing Scams:

Now that we understand how holiday phishing scams operate, its essential to know how to recognize and avoid falling victim to them.

  1. Verify the Sender:Always check the senders email address or domain. Be cautious of misspelled or suspicious email addresses. Legitimate companies and organizations use official domains for their communication.
  2. Don’t Click on Suspicious Links: Hover your mouse over links to see the actual URL they lead to. Be wary of shortened links or URLs that dont match the senders domain. If in doubt, visit the website directly by typing the URL into your browser.
  3. Beware of Urgency and Pressure: Scammers often create a sense of urgency, claiming limited-time offers or imminent problems. Take your time to verify the authenticity of any claims before taking action.
  4. Double-Check Websites: Before entering personal or financial information on a website, ensure its secure. Look for https:// in the URL, a padlock icon in the address bar and a valid SSL certificate.
  5. Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Enable 2FA wherever possible, especially for online shopping and banking accounts. This provides an extra layer of security, even if your password is compromised. 
  6. Educate Yourself and Others: Stay informed about current phishing tactics and share this knowledge with friends and family. The more people are aware, the harder it becomes for scammers to succeed.
  7. Protect Personal Information: Avoid sharing sensitive information via email or text messages, even if the request seems legitimate. Use secure channels for such communication.

While the holiday season is a time for celebration and togetherness, its crucial to remain vigilant against holiday phishing scams. Cybercriminals prey on the festive spirit and increased online activity during this time. By recognizing the signs of phishing attempts and following best practices for online security, you can protect yourself and ensure a safe and joyous holiday season for you and your loved ones. 

Make sure to visit our Cyber Security Awareness Training Resource Page https://info.computer-center.com/Cybersecurity-Awareness-Training today. This extensive training resource is specifically crafted to equip you with the necessary knowledge and tools to prevent cyber-attacks.

Any questions? Feel free to contact us at 608-755-1524.