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10 Holiday Scams to Avoid

Many of us are gearing up to get our holiday shopping completed online this season. While online shopping is very convenient and provides a safe way to shop amid pandemic concerns, there are scams that you need to be aware of during the holidays.

During the holidays, criminals know that people are rushed, and they may not be paying as close attention to online threats, giving criminals the chance to take advantage of this vulnerability. With our focus on cybersecurity, Pittsburgh’s CMIT Solutions has put together a guide to common holiday scams you should avoid.

Online Holiday ShoppingMalware in E-Cards

During the holiday season, you may receive emails and email Christmas cards from unfamiliar sources. Avoid opening any emails or clicking on any links that you do not recognize. These fake Christmas cards could be infected with malware that can infect your computer with a virus and steal your personal information and data.

Fake Gifts

When it comes to finding gifts for friends and family, we all want to make their dreams come true. In some cases, we may try to find their dream gift at a lower price online. When searching for the least expensive version, you risk buying a fake product, but you also risk paying for a product that you will never receive.

Make certain that the site is secure with an https, not HTTP, in front of the web address. You also want to avoid companies that do not have any contact details and those that ask for money over the phone. Remember, if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Fake Charities

During the holidays many of us take the time to donate to charity. Many legitimate charities are now taking to social media and email marketing to spread awareness of their mission and to solicit donations. This creates an opportunity for criminals to set up fake profiles and websites to ask for money, claiming to be a well-known charity.

Before making a donation, be sure that you are on the official website, social media account, or email address for the charity. If something seems wrong, it is likely a scam.

Suspicious Gift Card Emails

Gift cards are an easy way to give gifts to friends and family. Criminals take advantage of this convenience by sending users receipts for gift cards they do not recall purchasing. When you try to cancel the gift card purchase, they will ask you for your personal information, including credit card information, for the “refund.” Beware of email receipts that do not come from an official, recognized source, and don’t trust anything that seems off.

Festive Desktop Backgrounds

Many of us like to put a festive background on our computer for the holidays. Unfortunately, there has been an increase in malware contained in desktop holiday-themed offerings. Be sure to never download a zip file from an unknown source. Only use a free image source from a trusted site. If you aren’t familiar with a particular site, don’t download any files from it. Any sites that ask for payment or are offering bundles to download are likely a scam.

Fake Surveys

These are common throughout the year. Many fake surveys promise a gift or cash reward once you complete a survey. With many people looking for extra cash around the holidays, fake surveys are on the rise during Christmas time. Surveys asking for a credit card or banking details are very likely to be malicious in nature. It is also rare to find sites that legally offer cash rewards for surveys. Avoid these surveys and do not fill in anything that is asking for personal information.

Fake Vacations

The holidays are a common time for many people to take their dream vacation or to gift one to a family member or friend. Criminals take advantage of this desire by creating false advertisements, websites, and vacation packages online. There are a variety of ways that criminal organizations attempt to scam you. Only click on ads and links from reputable companies. Again, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Shipping Status Emails

Similar to the gift card scam, criminals will send shipping status updates to individuals for gifts they don’t remember ordering. They hope you will open these emails and click on the links, infecting your computer. They can also work the same as the gift card scam by asking you for your banking or personal information.

Unsecured Wi-Fi

With many people doing their online shopping from their phones, it is important to remember to avoid using unknown Wi-Fi sources or public Wi-Fi access points. They are not secure and could result in your information being stolen.

Cyber Security Services in Pittsburgh

Don’t leave your business vulnerable this holiday season. Contact CMIT Solutions of Pittsburgh South today to learn more about our cybersecurity and IT services to keep your data safe.

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