Do Not Click… Common Schemes to Look Out for Over the Holidays and Beyond

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and unfortunately, increased cyber threats. As we exchange gifts and festive greetings online, cybercriminals are working diligently to exploit the holiday spirit for their own gain. It’s crucial to stay vigilant and informed about the common cyber schemes that tend to surge during this time of year and beyond. Here are some examples to help you navigate the digital landscape safely.

1. Phishing Scams: Naughty Emails in Disguise

Phishing scams are a perennial threat, but they often become more sophisticated during the holidays. Cybercriminals send emails that appear to be from reputable sources, such as shipping companies or online retailers, asking recipients to confirm personal information or track a package. Clicking on the links in these emails can lead to malware installation or credential theft.

Example: You receive an email or text message claiming to be from a well-known delivery service, asking you to click on a link to track a package. Before you click, verify the sender’s email address or phone number and double-check with the actual delivery service through their official website or customer service.

2. Can You Hear Me? The Phone Call Scam That Speaks Volumes

In this devious phone scam, scammers ask innocent-sounding questions like “Can you hear me?” or “Is this [your name]?” during a call. The twist? They’re recording your response with the sinister intent of using it against you later. A casual “Yes” from you becomes a voice recording in their hands, ready to be manipulated to make it seem like you’ve agreed to fraudulent charges or entered into a fake contract. Stay alert to these audio schemes during the holiday season!

Example: you receive a call from an unfamiliar number. The caller, using a friendly tone, asks, “Can you hear me okay?” Instead of responding with a straightforward “Yes,” respond with phrases like “I can hear you fine” or inquire about the caller’s identity before providing any affirmative answer.

3. Gift Card Scams: 'Tis Better to Receive Than Be Deceived

Gift cards are a popular and convenient present during the holiday season, but cybercriminals have found ways to exploit them. Scammers may impersonate friends or family, asking for gift card codes via email or social media, claiming they need help or are in a difficult situation.

Example: You receive a message from a friend urgently asking for gift card codes to help them out of a supposed tight spot. Always verify such requests through a separate means of communication before taking any action.

4. Facebook Business Account Removal Scam: Protecting Your Online Presence

Scammers are deploying a new tactic to exploit business owners on social media platforms. The Facebook Business Account Removal Scam is a scheme that preys on the fear of losing one’s online presence. 

Example: Business owners receive a Facebook message claiming to be from the platform’s support team. The message warns that their business account is at risk of removal due to policy violations or unauthorized activities. To rectify the supposed issue, the scammer instructs the user to click on a link or provide sensitive information.

Fear of losing access to a business account can prompt quick and unthinking reactions. Clicking on the provided link may lead to a phishing site designed to steal login credentials or inject malware into the user’s device. Alternatively, providing personal information directly to the scammer could result in identity theft or unauthorized access to business-related accounts.

Authentic communication from Facebook will generally come through official channels. Double-check the sender’s profile, and if in doubt, contact Facebook directly through their official support channels.

5. Social Media Scams: Festive Frauds in Your Feed

With the increased use of social media during the holidays, scammers leverage these platforms for various schemes. Be cautious of fake contests, giveaways, or friend requests from unfamiliar profiles.

Example: You come across a post claiming to offer a fantastic holiday giveaway, requiring you to input personal information. Always verify the legitimacy of such offers directly through the official channels of the alleged organizer.

Give The Gift of Cybersecurity Awareness

As the holiday season unfolds with joy and festivities, it also brings an unfortunate surge in cyber threats. In the spirit of giving and connecting online, cybercriminals are tirelessly working to exploit vulnerabilities. To navigate this digital landscape safely, arm yourself with knowledge about prevalent scams, from phishing emails to phone call schemes, gift card cons, and social media deceptions.

Click carefully, respond to calls wisely, and double-check before sharing sensitive info. Remember, the most wonderful time of the year should also be the most secure time in the digital realm.

Share this information with friends and family to ensure a safe and secure online experience this season.