McAfee just released its annual “12 Scams of Christmas” list to educate the public on the most common scams that criminals use during the upcoming year-end festive season and sales campaigns to take advantage of consumers as they shop on their digital devices. Cybercriminals leverage these scams to steal personal information, earn fast cash, and spread malware. So, consumers should ensure that they are taking all precautions to protect the data saved on their devices.
“The potential for identity theft increases as consumers share personal information across multiple devices that are often under protected,” said Michelle Dennedy, vice president and chief privacy officer at McAfee. “Understanding criminals’ mindsets and being aware of how they try to take advantage of consumers can help ensure that we use our devices the way they were intended – to enhance our lives not jeopardize them.”
To help consumers stay alert for greedy perpetrators, when they surf the web for holiday travel deals and seek out gifts for their loved ones, McAfee has identified this year’s top “12 Scams of Christmas”:
1) Not-So-Merry Mobile Apps – Official-looking software for holiday shopping, including those that feature celebrity or company endorsements, could be malicious, designed to steal or send out your personal data.
2) Holiday Mobile SMS Scams – FakeInstaller tricks Android users into thinking it is a legitimate installer for an application and then quickly takes advantage of the unrestricted access to smartphones, sending SMS messages to premium rate numbers without the users’ consent.
3) Hot Holiday Gift Scams – Clever crooks will post dangerous links, phony contests on social media sites, and send phishing emails to entice viewers to reveal personal information or download malware onto their devices.
4) Seasonal Travel Scams – Phony travel deal links and notifications are common, as are hackers waiting to steal your identity upon arrival at your destination. A hotel’s Wi-Fi may claim that you need to install software before using it and instead infect your computer with malware if you “agree.”
5) Dangerous E-Seasons Greetings – Legitimate-looking e-cards wishing friends “Season’s Greetings” can cause unsuspecting users to download “Merry Malware” such as a Trojan or other virus after clicking a link or opening an attachment.
6) Deceptive Online Games – Be wary of games’ sources. Many sites offering full-version downloads are often laden with malware, and integrated social media pages can expose gamers, too
7) Shipping Notifications Shams – Phony shipping notifications can appear to be from a mailing service alerting you to an update on your shipment, when in reality, they are scams carrying malware and other harmful software designed to infect your computer or device.
8) Bogus Gift Cards – Deceptive ads especially on social sites usually claim to offer exclusive deals on gift cards or packages of cards and can lead consumers to purchase phony ones online.
9) Holiday SMiShing – During the holidays, SMiShing is commonly seen in gift card messages, where scammers pose as banks or credit card companies asking you to confirm information for “security purposes”.
10)Fake Charities – Cybercriminals capitalize on generosity and set up fake charity sites and pocket the donations.
11)Romance Scams – Many messages sent from an online friend can include phishing scams, where the person accesses your personal information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details.
12) Phony E-Tailers – With so many people planning to shop online, scammers set up phony e-commerce sites to steal your money and personal data.
“While devices and computers provide convenience, it also opens up plenty of opportunities for cybercriminals to take advantage of consumers’ purchasing activities,” said Stephen Perchard, Vice President, Consumer and Mobile, Asia Pacific at McAfee. “To protect personal data, consumers should secure their devices before buying and installing applications. Users should also be weary of links offering deals that appear too good to be true and instead, order their purchases from retailers directly.”
If you do plan to search for deals online, use apps or open those shopping related emails, make sure your entire household’s devices have protection, such as McAfee LiveSafe™, which protects all your PCs, Macs, tablets and smartphones. It also includes malware detection software, McAfee® Mobile Security, to protect your smartphone or tablet from all types of malware. This app will guard you from the latest mobile threats and risky apps, offers enhanced privacy and backup features, location tracking and SiteAdvisor® technology to help you steer clear of dangers when searching on a mobile device.
For more information on McAfee’s 12 Scams of Christmas list and tips on how to stay safe while using digital devices, please check out www.mcafee.com/12scams