Every year during this peak holiday season, the Better Business Bureau issues warnings about scams that can dampen your Christmas spirit.
Chief among those scams are phishing attempts.
This year is no exception. Devious-minded crooks would love to hook you in with their phishing expeditions.
The goal as always, is to acquire your credit card, banking and other personal information so they can get at your money.
They know that as the big day draws nearer, shoppers are more likely to overlook precautions in the holiday rush.
Here is some advice from your BBB to keep you from taking the bait from phishing scammers.
A favorite technique of information thieves is to send out email advertisements that appear to be from legitimate retailers.
For that reason it is vital that you know how to spot the fakes. These tips can help:
Watch out when an email asks you to confirm personal information.
It can look genuine – imitating the look of a retailer is easy to do.
Be especially careful if they request banking details or login credentials that you would never otherwise consider giving out.
Don’t open any links. Don’t click on them.
If you think it may be real, go instead to the retailer’s website and contact them directly.
Look for red flags in the web and email addresses.
At first glance they can look real. Watch out especially for “.exe” instead of “.com” at the end of the line.
This stands for “execute command” and means a virus is contained in the link.
At the beginning of the web address, look for the “s” as in https:// since it stands for “security.” There should also be a lock icon on the purchase or shopping cart page.
Poorly written text in an email. This is frequently one of the easiest ways to spot cybercriminal activity.
Either these crooks did not pay much attention when they were in English class or English is not their native language, indicating a foreign origin for the email.
Spelling and grammatical mistakes are nearly always present in their scam messages.
Some have even suggested that these mistakes may be intentional as a way of only appealing to very gullible victims.
Beware of attachments. They are a favorite way of causing you to download malware onto your computer or device.
When in doubt, throw it out. Don’t take risks – there is too much at stake.
Discard anything that you have even the smallest suspicion about.
The popularity of
E-Cards has certainly caught the eye of cybercrooks. That’s why you need to exercise caution when opening one. Some clues to watch for:
The message telling you that you have an ecard does not contain the name of someone you recognize as its sender. It may simply say it’s from “a friend” or “a secret admirer.” Do not open the E-Card.
A link or attachment in the notification ends with the “.exe” in its web address.
If you recognize the sender’s name, it’s probably ok to click the link. But even so, there is no guarantee of authenticity. Names can be “spoofed.” A better idea is to go to the E-Card company’s website to get the card.
Legitimate notifications include a confirmation code you can use at the E-Card website.
Another simple solution when in doubt: message your friend and ask if they sent you a card before opening it.
For questions or concerns about holiday phishing avoidance, contact your BBB at (800) 649-6814, or visit our website at bbb.org.