Monday, December 29, 2014

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year… For Scammers Too

During the holiday season, many people choose to give and help others around them, but sometimes due to the spirit of giving that abounds, we tend to let our guard down. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently published an article which outlines five popular scams to be sure to avoid this holiday season.

  1. Shipping notification scam – Scammers will send an email that looks like it’s from a major shipping company stating that a package wasn’t delivered. Attached to the email is a phishing virus that can phish your computer and steal sensitive information, such as bank account numbers and passwords.
  2. Mobile App Scam – Because of the increased number of apps that are downloaded while people travel for the holidays, scammers create apps that use near field communication technology to scan credit card information if your smart phone is placed close enough to your credit cards.
  3. Text Message Scams – Recipients receive a text message stating that they have subscribed to something and will be charged unless they follow a link to cancel the subscription. The victims either end up giving out sensitive information or downloading a Trojan virus onto their phone that tracks all of their activity.
  4. Gift Card Scams – Scammers obtain the important information from a gift card while it is still on the shelf at the store and then track the balance waiting for it to be activated. After it is activated they use the information they copied earlier and drain the balance of the card, leaving the recipient of your gift card with a zero balance.
  5. Charity Scams – People are much more charitable during this time of year, but scammers know that too. Scammers send unsolicited emails to their victims telling a story of a natural disaster or other extenuating circumstance that has left them in need. They ask for help and promise to repay the money. After a money order is sent the victims never see their money again. When deciding whether or not to give, it’s great to be charitable, but remember the advice of Julie Wheeler, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau: “If you’re giving, do your homework first. Know who you are giving to and know where your money is going."
While it may not be possible to completely avoid every potential scam, it is important to remember some of the common techniques that scammers use during the holiday season and be sure not to be one of their victims this year.

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