The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regularly posts updates about known e-scams and warnings on their official website. Each year they post an holiday shopping warning, advising citizens to be more vigilant of their billing statements and account information than any other time of the year.
As a general rule, if an online offer seems too good to be true, it’s not. You wouldn’t buy a Macbook from a stranger who hangs out at the gas station would you? Well, no one is going to give you a $900 Coach bag just for participating in a survey either.
Don’t open spam from phishers. Don’t click on fraudulent links. And for Heaven’s sake, don’t download any files attached to strange emails or websites! If it is a real offer then if it comes from the store’s official website after you make a purchase or sign up for the newsletter. Look closely at the URL and if you have any doubts, check out the businesses’ homepage, and contact a representative.
According to the United States Computer Readiness Team (US-CERT), in conjunction with the FBI, as well as the AARP, and the Internet security experts at Norton, “seasonal scams and cyber campaigns” may come in one or more of seven forms.
1. Electronic greeting cards from an unknown sender.
Holiday greeting cards are not as special if they come from a complete stranger, or if your friend’s email was hacked. Questionable holiday greetings will contain a link to malware.
2. Requests from dubious charitable organizations.
‘Tis the giving season. Unfortunately there are some con men and women who choose to take advantage of this sentiment. If you wish to make a donation, select a reputable non-governmental organization (NGO) or pick a local charity that you can inspect face-to-face.
3. Downloads for “screensavers” or other media.
Don’t download anything from a spammy looking website. If there are dozens of annoying pop-ups that won’t close as soon as you navigate to a website, it’s not legitimate. If you can’t tell the difference, consider using one of these Norton coupon codes to save on better Internet security. If a website is bogus, Norton will block it. You won’t get past the door, so to speak.
4. False credit card applications.
Never apply for a credit card from a company you haven't heard of. There are only four major lenders: VISA, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover. Try asking your bank.
5. Bogus online shopping advertisements.
Prices are lower during Cyber Week, but nothing is free. Make sure that online retailers and coupon sites are credited and secure. Don’t respond to suspicious emails from bogus retailers.
6. Shipping notifications for items you never ordered.
If you receive an email regarding personal information about a “recent purchase” you would never make, spam it and move on with your life.
7. Unattended gift cards.
It is possible to obtain the code off an unattended gift card through nefarious means. When someone activates them, cyber thieves can then use the ill-obtained code to buy merchandise. Only buy gift cards that are under lock and key of a vigilant customer service rep. Or better yet, purchase them from the OFFICIAL websites of major retailers.