With the holiday season bearing down on us, Internet scammers and spammers are ramping up their efforts to more effectively trick us out of our money.
Some of my customers are already reporting an increase in deceptive emails that seem to be targeted directly at them. As happens every year around the holidays, expect that increase to turn into a full-on assault as crooks pull the trigger on a tsunami of big money-making scams.
The fact that consumers have rabidly embraced online buying like ducks on juicy junebugs is not lost on the Internet bad guys. That many consumers mindlessly engage in holiday buying sprees with little or no concern given to safety or security has also not gone unnoticed by online crooks, either. Year by year, the crooks fine-tune their email campaigns, making their schemes more convincing than the last. Folks who want to pay attention, learn, and stay out of trouble, will. Those sheep who don’t will be sheared.
High on the list of favored scam spams are those who claim to be from big-box retailers like Walmart, Home Depot or Best Buy. “Check your order status,” they may proclaim. They may even address you personally, using your real name. They most certainly will have convincing-looking graphics, fonts and bona fide company logos. The email will ask you to click on a link, which will take you to a phony website, which is where everything starts to go downhill. The spam email may even ask you to open an attachment or download a “sales flyer,” leading to even more trouble.
Other scams may appear to come from FedEx, UPS or the U.S. Postal Service, claiming they are attempting to deliver an important package to you, if you would only divulge certain important bits of information that will help them do their job. Messages claiming to be from financial institutions like banks and credit card companies may try to scare you into trouble, claiming your account and password “have been hack” and urging you to sign in to “protect” your accounts. Phony “e-cards,” seemingly from relatives or friends, may secret hold an evil payload.
The “how-to’s” of avoiding trouble are not difficult or complicated, but they must be implemented to be effective. Don’t click on links found in emails. Instead, visit retail websites “in person” before giving or receiving information. Don’t open email attachments unless you know for sure where they came from and what they are. Beware of emails claiming to be from the IRS, stating that you either overpaid or underpaid your taxes. Be advised that social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are swarming with fake messages and ads designed to part you from your money.
Be on the lookout for bogus charity schemes designed to exploit your good nature and the heart of giving that arises during the holidays. Look for messages that use bad grammar, misspelled words and grandiose schemes. Watch out for messages offering companionship or intimate relations. Many people are lonely during the holidays; the Internet bad guys know this, and have no shame in using it to perpetuate their frauds. Know that as the holiday season progresses, the amount of scam spams will increase; be aware and don’t be fooled.
Visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zB8ibl0pykM to see an informative video on the subject.