Christmas is a time for celebrating and catching up with loved ones, but unfortunately, it's also a time when cybercriminals ramp up their efforts to scam people. It's important to be cautious all year round, but especially during the festive season when cyber scams are more common.
In the past, these scams have primarily targeted individuals, but in recent years, the risks to businesses have grown considerably. Cybercriminals know that as Christmas approaches, employees let their guard down and become less cyber vigilant. This provides the perfect opportunity for attack.
From phishing emails to fake delivery notifications and online scams, cybercriminals will use a range of different tactics to defraud businesses and steal data.
To avoid falling victim, staff must remain vigilant and familiarise themselves with the different types of scams that could be used to target them. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the most common Christmas cyber scams and provide tips on how to avoid them.
1. Fake Delivery Notifications
With so many parcels being delivered at Christmas, it can be difficult to keep track of when everything’s arriving. Fraudsters take advantage of all this online activity and use it as a guise to launch mass phishing scams. These scams typically start with an email or text message that appears to come from a reputable delivery company. The message will claim that a package was unable to be delivered and prompt you to click on a link to schedule a new delivery time. Once opened, the link can infect your device with malware, or it may direct you to a fake website where you’re asked to provide personal or financial information. Cybercriminals can then use this data to steal your money or identity.
2. Malicious e-Cards
Christmas e-Cards have become a popular and cost-effective way to wish family and friends a Happy Christmas. While most are harmless, you should always treat any that arrive in your inbox with caution. These emails can contain videos, images, or links that can infect your device with malware. Cybercriminals can then steal your data or monitor your keystrokes as you enter passwords online. Trust your instincts if you receive an email that looks suspicious. Don't open it, don't click any links, and don't download any attachments.
3. Charity Scams
The season of goodwill provides the perfect opportunity for fraudsters to create bogus charities and appeal for donations on their behalf. These scams can take many forms, from fake websites and social accounts to well-crafted phishing emails. Whatever the format, they all have one thing in common: they're designed to trick you into giving money to a fraudulent organisation. The best way to avoid this type of scam is to do your research before donating. You can do this by checking the charity's official website, contacting them directly, or looking them up on a charity watchdog website.
4. Online Shopping Scams
It can be tempting to take advantage of all the festive deals online, but it's important to remember that if an offer seems too good to be true, it usually is! Cybercriminals will often clone websites to dupe consumers into thinking they’re shopping on a legitimate site. These sites may offer big discounts or exclusive deals but will ultimately steal your personal information and leave you empty-handed. Before making a purchase, always check the website's security and privacy policies. It's also a good idea to pay with a credit card as it offers additional protection against fraudulent charges.
5. Gift Card Scams
Gift card scams are a common form of fraud that occurs during the festive season. The scams typically involve the sale of fake or stolen gift cards, which are often advertised at a discounted price. You may receive a text message or email that looks like it’s from a well-known company such as Amazon. It’ll inform you that you’ve won a free gift card or provide you with a code to unlock a discount. If you click on the link, it will direct you to a fake website, where you’ll be asked to submit personal or financial information. Always be cautious purchasing gift cards and only buy them from reputable sources.
How to Avoid Christmas Cyber Scams
- Never click on links or download attachments from unknown senders.
- If there are any inconsistencies in the email address, links, or domain name, delete immediately.
- Be wary of URL redirects and pay attention to subtle differences in website content.
- If you get an email, call or text about a parcel you weren’t expecting, treat it with suspicion.
- Use a credit card, not your debit card for shopping online.
- Never pay for goods via bank transfer and be suspicious if you’re asked to do so.
- Keep all security and operating systems updated.
- Enable Multifactor Authentication to secure accounts.
- Enable a spam filter on your email account.
Get in touch today to find out how we can help keep your business safe from cyber scams and other online threats.