Good scammers are always looking for vulnerable opportunities to exploit others with phishing scams, and these opportunities become prevalent during the holiday season. If you’re not crystal clear on what phishing scams are or the most common traps to watch out for then you need to keep reading.
The decline in our nation’s economic stability combined with increased spending during the holiday season puts everyone’s personal finances and sensitive information at greater risk. Thankfully, when you learn how the game is played and what tricks and traps to watch out for, you’re less likely to fall for scams any time of the year.
What are ‘Phishing Scams’?
Phishing scams are when a malevolent person or group of individuals disguises their identity in an attempt to gain personal information or sensitive bank account details from their victims. Scammers typically use the reputation of an industry or organization that is well-known and reputable. They may even pose as your own financial institution when sending out fraudulent emails or texts to you.
They want your guard down and for you to cooperate with the instructions they provide in their email or text. These instructions may ask you to click on a link or change or verify a transaction by entering your password from the email or text link provided.
What Happens When Malware Gets on My Device?
Scammers want you to expose your digital devices to malware and malicious software to gain access to sensitive data. If your phone or computer is unprotected from malware, criminals have an entry point to retrieve private information.
Malware also allows data thefts to:
- Send you unwanted advertisements
- Harass you with inappropriate images or websites
- Demand ransom money to unscramble encrypted data
- Weaken your devices to ongoing malware/ransomware
Tips for Avoiding Holiday Scams
The scammers’ main goal is pretty simple, steal your money. The way they do achieve this involves multiple steps and varies greatly, but may include stealing your entire identity or making your computer system vulnerable to greater data theft. All this with the end goal of financial gain on the part of the criminal.
The following FBI cybersecurity tips will help you stay protected and avoid holiday scams.
1— Avoid clicking on anything suspicious looking. Emails from companies you know and trust are often disguised as cons and you’ll notice the sender’s email address will be different than the company they are posing as.
2— When in doubt, never give out your personal information. Avoid opening up any text, email or attachment that appears suspicious. Instead, delete, block, report as spam and avoid any engagement with the other side. Your personal information should remain unknown any time you have suspicions about the credibility of the person or company contacting you.
3— Verify secure websites before making online purchases. Holidays call for a lot of online shopping, so ensuring the sites you use are safe is an essential step during this season. A great way to do this is by checking if the website’s URL begins with “https”. Do not enter your information on website addresses that do not start with ‘https’.
4— Don’t fall for “missed package” scams. A common scam is using missed packages or delivery tracking scam emails and texts to urge the sharing of personal information. Do not click, call or respond with any personal information.
5— Avoid phony social media holiday contests. Fraudulent social media contests and chances to win during the holidays are often tricks to gaining your personal information and downloading malware onto your phone or computer.
If you are the victim of a holiday phishing scam, report the incident right away to your local law enforcement office, banks, credit card companies, FBI and FTC. Also, share these tips with people you know to help spread awareness and protective measures against phishing scams.
Kobargo is Your Source for Quality IT Services
Partnering with Kobargo ensures peace of mind when it comes to cybersecurity. We assist with selecting the best security options for your company and strengthening your defenses at all layers of the network with detection, visibility and intelligence.
We build your cloud-based security around your business, giving you the best possible solutions. As your business grows, your network should grow with it.
Contact us today to assess your opportunities within IT cybersecurity management, and we can help to make the necessary changes that will secure your success.