Scammers take advantage of holiday spirit

| December 15, 2011 | 0 Comments

Installation Management Command-Pacific Region
Public Affairs Office

FORT SHAFTER — During the holiday season, many consumers will choose to buy gifts and services from online retailers.

Despite the economic downturn, Internet shopping may well hit record levels this holiday season, opening the door to a host of both new and well-practiced holiday scams.

The holidays are supposed to be a time of goodwill toward your fellow man, but for scammers, it’s an opportunity to grab all they can and get away while people’s defenses are down.

This season is prime time for scammers, and sadly, they’re going to be busy — not just on the Internet, but at the mall, at the airport, at the register and even at your own front door, as they take advantage of seasonal hustle and bustle.

Scammers will try to take advantage of the increased volume of online consumers and try to exploit those who are unaware of cyber risks to gain access to their personal information.

Public and private sector organizations and individuals should remain vigilant when purchasing online.

Current threat trends include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Phony profiles on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are claiming to be legitimate businesses. These fake profiles will look like their legitimate counterparts, but clicking on links in these profiles could allow malicious code to be installed on the victim’s computer compromising the victim’s security and privacy.
  • Emails from hotels claiming that a “wrong transaction” has been charged to a credit card have also been reported. The hotel will claim to offer a refund if the victim downloads and completes a refund form. Unfortunately, the form is embedded with malicious code and downloading it installs malware onto the victim’s computer.
  • Emails that are actually phishing scams involving bogus courier services during the holidays. The fake courier will send an email saying a package is waiting for the victim and asking for personal information from the victim in order to retrieve data.
  • Non-legitimate websites claiming to have the “hot” gift of the season when most legitimate retailers are sold out. The non-legitimate websites will tempt victims to order from them when they actually do not have the item and will steal victims’ personal information and charge their credit card.

(Editor’s Note: Vanessa Lynch, news editor, contributed to the content of this article.)

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