You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm telling you why... cyber criminals are coming to town!
With Christmas just round the corner, more and more people are turning to the Internet in search for the latest deals. Unfortunately, this means rich pickings for festive fraudsters, who like to make the most of the season by coming up with ever more ingenious ways to target consumers during the Christmas rush.
So how can you spot the scams and, more importantly, protect yourself? Alice Beer is here with her 12 Scams of Christmas you should look out for.
On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me: AN EMAIL ABOUT A DELIVERY: In the run up to Christmas, many people have dozens of packages arriving and often lose track of what they've ordered. Scammers know this and send out emails purporting to come from legitimate courier companies. They ask you to click on a link. When you do, it downloads malware or takes you to a scam site. ALICE SAYS: "Check the senders address (always) and go through a website from the search engine to track your packages."
On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me: TWO E-VOUCHERS: These are often shared on social media or email and claim to offer free vouchers from well-known brands. Potential victims are told that to claim a voucher, all they need to do is click on a link. This can take them to a fake site where they will be asked for their details. ALICE SAYS: "Look out for poor spelling and grammar and, if in any doubt, check the voucher by emailing the shop."
On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me: THREE DODGY FAKES: In the 30 days between cyber Monday and Christmas Day more fakes are sold online than at any other time of year 65% of crimes at Christmas were linked to online auction sites. The average loss for these reports was £727. People are desperate to show how much they care with a gift and what better way than with a designer label. But these fakes and phoneys are at best bad quality and at worst dangerous. We say it all the time but those trainers will fall apart, that perfume could have chemicals in it and burn the skin when sprayed, the phone and charger could start a serious fire and none of that is love! Trending items victims reported losing out to fraudsters on included yeezy trainers, Kylie Jenner makeup, hair dryers, drones and Fitbit watches. ALICE SAYS:"If it's cheaper on an auction site... then it ain't real!"
On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: FOUR WISH LIST LEAKS: Wish lists are a way for people to post what gifts they want online. However, these are often easy for anyone to view and, for a fraudster, can be a goldmine. These lists often contain personal information and makes the owner vulnerable to identity theft. Cyber-criminals can also use items on the list for targeted phishing scams. ALICE SAYS: "Ensure the privacy settings on any online lists are set to high."
On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love said to me: DON'T DRINK AND BUY! It is not a good idea to sit down with a bottle of wine and your laptop in the evening to do your Christmas shopping. You will spend too much. You will miss the warning signs when something is dodgy. You will be less alert to secure shopping. You will end up wasting money, risking your banking security and probably buying a load of old tat. ALICE SAYS: ‚"Promise yourself a lovely glass when you are finished"
On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: SIX SAFE PURCHASES: Any time you make a purchase you are potentially sharing vital information with the world. Do you want to shout out your bank details to strangers or do you want to secretly and securely pass the details to the person you are doing the transaction with? Its your choice. ALICE SAYS:"Use your credit or debit card or Paypal. Never do a bank transfer unless you know the person you are dealing with. Always ensure that you keep your anti-virus software, operating systems and other security measures are up-to-date on your electronic devices."
On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me: SEVEN STRONG PASSWORDS: You must create strong passwords that are unique for each account you have. It's so hard when some companies ask for a symbol and others say no symbols just numbers. ALICE SAYS: "Use three random words keep two of them the same and then keep a note of the third with the specific ending according to the requirements of that website. Sausagechocolatewaitrose!"
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: EIGHT SOCIAL MEDIA DEALS: Particularly prevalent this year are social media deals. Scammers use them to tempt people with irresistibly good deals on goods such as electronics and jewellery. The social networks are also a place where links to phishing sites and malware can be widely shared. Scammers may even be 'friends' of real friends of yours who say yes to every connection request. ALICE SAYS: "Stop clicking on links you know nothing about. You wouldn't go into a dodgy shop on the high street waving your bank card about‚ don't do it online."
On the ninth day of Christmas my true love sent to me: NINE NASTY APPS: The festive season often prompts the launch of new mobile apps, promising to make Christmas shopping easier. But shoppers should think twice about downloading official-looking software, as apps can carry malware designed to steal personal data. ALICE SAYS: "Only buy apps from official app stores."
On the tenth day of Christmas my true love sent to me: TEN TRAVEL DEALS: Travel is a big part of the festive period and many will be looking for the best deals online. Cyber thieves are well aware of this and use bogus offers for great deals to trick bargain hunters into entering credit card details and other private information. According to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau there were more than 1,500 holiday scams reported in Britain last year. (check up to date figures in the AM)
On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love sent to me: ELEVEN E-CARD VIRUSES: There are some lovely e-cards going around. They are a great way to send a card to someone who you are in email contact with throughout the year but don't necessarily have their address. When you see you have a card from an unnamed relative, neighbour or friend who has supposedly sent you an e-card that can be viewed by clicking on a link. STOP. Clicking on that link, may unleash anything from spyware and popup ads to viruses and Trojans. In some cases, nothing bad happens until you first download software from the e-card website. ALICE SAYS: "If there is any doubt about an e-cards authenticity, don't click on any links inside. Delete e-cards from people you don't know without opening or reading them, and never click to accept terms from any company without actually reading the fine print."
On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love sent to me: A BANK STATEMENT THAT CANNOT BE IGNORED: Only 55% of the population check their bank statements regularly. It is no good pretending its not there. Check purchases, direct debits, renewed standing orders, charges for things you didn't order, refunds for things you sent back. ALICE SAYS: "When the worst statement of the year, the one after Christmas comes in‚ make it your new years resolution to check it. You will be amazed how many errors you will find in your favour."