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Watch out for cyber holiday scams

While the holidays are known for merriment and joy, cyber criminals may prey on the generous (and potentially distracted) nature of the season. Keep your holidays bright by staying scam-savvy:

  • Social Media Shopping Scams — Posts that promote special vouchers or gift cards pop up on social media feeds this time of year. These posts pose as holiday promotions or contests, and they may even appear as a shared link from a friend. Rather than lead you to purchase a product or service, these fake deals may simply ask you to participate in an online survey. The online survey may be designed to steal your personal information, which is then used in a larger crime.
  • Discount Scams — Is the deal too good to be true? Scammers may offer enticing deals through web advertisements, social media, and phishing emails. Beware of offers touting brand-name merchandise at extremely low prices or large incentives (like gift cards or “chances to win” a grand prize) to purchase a product. In many cases, these “incredible” deals are offering counterfeit goods. Shop wisely and don’t be tempted by unrealistic prices. 
  •  Donation Scams — Giving is prominent during the holidays, and many charities reach out to their supporters as they fundraise this time of year. Unfortunately, criminals know that donations are prevalent and may attempt to solicit money under the guise of charities. If you receive a call asking you to give money, ask questions and verify that the real charity is calling. Do not rush to make a donation. It is safest to end that call, research the charity, and donate by contacting the charity yourself. Make your donation count and don’t fund scammers.
  • Emotional Scams — If you receive an urgent or emotional call, text or email from an unknown sender or someone acting as a friend, family member or coworker, think twice before replying. Scammers will play to the generous and helpful nature of people, especially during the holiday season. Oftentimes the criminals act in urgent need of money to support a surgery, vehicle accident, travel to see loved ones, or financial assistance with gifts.

As always, protect yourself by using strong passphrases on all accounts, especially email, bank, credit card, rewards, shopping, medical, and any other accounts that store sensitive information, and never share personal data with unknown parties.