Guest Post by Due.
The holiday season is usually about giving, but the online environment has unfortunately bred a season of stealing as more criminals have emerged with innovative scams designed to get what they want.
A recent Forbes article on online holiday shopping scams reported that online scams are expected to increase this holiday season: “Unfortunately, along with millions of transactions comes a high incidence of fraud — and the nature of that fraud is changing this year due to the shift over the last year or so to EMV, or chip-cards. In a recent survey of 125 retailers, representing 13 percent of online sales, the projection is that online fraud attempts will rise 43 percent this year over last.”
With that information and survey as a backdrop, it’s important to know just what type of scams are out there at this time — especially with the holiday season upon us — to help stop fraud in its tracks.
This holiday, a scam has been going around on social sites like Facebook that asks people to purchase one gift for a stranger and, in return, they can receive as many as 36 gifts. A few variations on this scam have made the rounds as a bottle of wine — while others may involve another type of product.
While the idea may at first seem reasonable, in reality it’s asking you to share personal information in messages. Part of all online (and other) security measures tells us not to share personal information unless it is with a trusted site.
This is a particularly valuable measure to remember at all times with any purchase, but especially with online purchases. Fraudulent individuals can’t seem to resist setting you up, gaining the information, and then using that information for criminal purposes.
Expert Tip: Save yourself from the scam, don’t participate!
Charity scams have always been a favorite of con artists. It truly is a shame the scammers attack charities. Scamming in the name of a charity can give charities a bad name, and cut down on the donations that the very charities we want to support are depending on.
As with many holidays, this type of holiday season promotes good will and an attitude of giving — and many of us are in the spirit of wanting to help others during holidays.
There is always an increase in the number of fake charities that pop up and try to scam money from good-hearted people all over the world. Having become more technologically-savvy than they were before, many of these fake charities are appearing online to take your money during the holidays.
Expert Tip: Before you give to any charitable organization, look them up online and do your due diligence to ensure that they are legitimate.
Smartphone App Scams
Some scam artists are going as far as to develop fake apps for iOS and Android phones that are so good that they are making it look as though the app is from a legitimate and recognizable brand.
Some of these fake apps are also in the form of games designed to entice you so they can steal credit card information or get into your phone’s operating system to obtain sensitive data.
These apps have even been found on Apple’s App Store — but Apple has been working toward identifying and removing fake apps.
The danger is that you could download one of these apps and choose to sign into it using your Facebook sign-in information, which then allows these scam artists to get a hold of your key personal and financial information.
These fake apps may also include malware that are disguised as advertisements and can corrupt your phone.
Expert Advice: Make sure you carefully read the app information before downloading. A few indications to watch for in a scam is that the language may often seem a little different — and typos in the description are also a give away of a fake app. Do your due diligence before downloading any apps.
Social Media Post Scams
Counterfeiters and scammers will create fake social media pages and ads to promote their counterfeit goods. You will end up with counterfeit items or even malicious software on your computer or smartphone that allows them to steal your personal and financial information.
Expert Advice: Be aware of what you are clicking on in social media and avoid any offers for free trips and huge discounts because as the saying goes, “if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.”
Since you most likely have ordered and are now ordering more items during the holidays, you will be getting more emails that provide you with shipping and status updates on your order. Unfortunately, some of these will be fake emails, and you may click on a link that then installs malicious software on your phone or computer.
Ensure you have the most updated anti-virus and anti-malware installed and run frequent scans. Be aware of these emails; read them carefully.
Expert Advice: If you are buying from Amazon or some other large retailer, it’s better to go to their website and look up your orders from there rather than opt to open any emails — just to be safe.
These are just some of the major holiday online scams currently out there, but criminals are working all the time to come up with even more ways to get your credit card information and personal data.
Stay updated on what these scammers are doing and remain vigilant.
Websites like ScamAwareness.org are now available and serve as good resources for remaining knowledgeable about what criminals are plotting. Do whatever you can to protect yourself and have a safe and scam-free holiday season.
About the Author
John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor, online marketing guru, and startup enthusiast. He is the founder of the online invoicing company Due. John is best-known as an entrepreneur and connector. He was recently named #2 on Top 50 Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine and a Blogging Expert by Time. He currently advises several companies in the San Francisco Bay area.