McAfee is once again looking out for their customer’s this holiday season as they release their annual “12 Scams of Christmas,” which gives consumers the heads-up about some of the most common cyber scams expected this year.

Michelle Dennedy, vice president and chief privacy officer at McAfee says “the potential for identity theft increases as consumers share personal information across multiple devices that are often under-protected…understanding criminals’ mindsets and being aware of how they try to take advantage of consumers can help ensure that we use our devices the way they were intended—to enhance our lives, not jeopardize them.”

Keep reading to learn about this year’s “12 Scams of Christmas:”

  1. Not-So-Merry Mobile Apps—Be very cautious with apps that claim they can help you save money on holiday shopping. Even some apps that seem to have endorsements from celebrities or companies might actually be designed to make it easy for criminals to steal or spread your personal information. Before you download any app, do some research to see if it is a legitimate money-saving tool.
  2. Holiday Mobils SMS Scams—The program FakeInstaller can actually fool the Android operating system into believing it has a legitimate reason to install an application, which gives it complete access to smart phones. If you get any text messages with holiday deals that seem too good to be true, they probably are.
  3. Hot Holiday Gift Scams—Be wary of links, contests on social media, and emails that try to get you to share information or download something onto your computer. Criminals disguise malware as links to holiday deals so they can gain access to people’s personal information. You should never share your personal information across these venues and always do research before entering contests.
  4. Seasonal Travel Scams—Once again, this scam involves criminals using links and downloads to steal money and information. You should never have to download something or share personal information to gain access to these deals. If you have any questions, call the company to see whether or not it is a legitimate deal.
  5. Dangerous ESeasons Greetings—Seemingly harmless-looking e-cards could entice users to click on a link or download Malware that gives criminals easy access to their information.
  6. Deceptive Online Games—Websites that offer free downloads of popular games might bring more than the game to your computer. It is probably better just to buy games this year instead of putting your identity at risk by downloading them for free.
  7. Shipping Notification Scams—Criminals are even using e-mails with fake shipping notifications to trick users into clicking on a harmful link. If you order items online, write down the tracking number and go to the mailing service’s website on your own.
  8. Bogus Gift Cards—Be cautious when buying gift cards online or you could find yourself wasting money on a fake gift card that actually has no value.
  9. Holiday SMiShing—If you receive gift card messages with banks or credit card companies asking you to input information for security purposes, it should give you a red flag that it is a scam. Never enter this information.
  10. Fake Charities—Unfortunately, there are still plenty of criminals that use fake charities as a way to earn big money. Do research before donating to ensure that your money is actually going to a good cause.
  11. Romance Scams—If you are corresponding with someone on an online dating website, never share any personal information like usernames, passwords, or details about your credit card.
  12. Phony ETailers—Crooks are taking advantage of the popularity of online shopping and setting up fake e-commerce sites. Before you buy something from a website, spend some time making sure it is legitimate.

Use caution when shopping online this year to avoid these and other scams that could put a serious cramp on the spirit of the holidays.

About The Author

Beth DeMilt is a News Editor for the Blast Network

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