McAfee's The Twelve Scams of Christmas

As cybercriminals begin to take advantage of the holiday season, McAfee, Inc. revealed the "Twelve Scams of Christmas” – the twelve most dangerous online scams that computer users should be cautious of this holiday season.

By Robert Siciliano | Posted Nov 29, 2009
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As cybercriminals begin to take advantage of the holiday season, McAfee, Inc. revealed the "Twelve Scams of Christmas” – the twelve most dangerous online scams that computer users should be cautious of this holiday season.

According to Consumer Reports' 2009 State of the Net Survey, cybercriminals have bilked $8 billion from consumers in the past two years, and McAfee warns consumers not to fall victim to the top scams this year.

"Cybercriminals' use their best schemes during the holidays to steal people's money, credit card information, social security number and identity,” said Jeff Green, senior vice president of McAfee Labs.

"These thieves follow seasonal trends and create holiday-related Web sites, scams and other convincing e-mails that can trick even the most cautious users.”

Being that I'm on McAfee's Consumer Advisory Board, I'm advising you to adhere to the following:

McAfee's Twelve Scams of Christmas

Scam I: Charity Phishing Scams – Be Careful Who You Give To

During the holiday season, hackers take advantage of citizens' generosity by sending e-mails that appear to be from legitimate charitable organizations.

In reality, they are fake Web sites designed to steal donations, credit card information and the identities of donors.

Scam II: Fake Invoices from Delivery Services to Steal Your Money

During the holidays, cybercriminals often send fake invoices and delivery notifications appearing to be from Federal Express, UPS or the U.S. Customs Service.

They e-mail consumers asking for credit card details to credit back the account, or require users to open an online invoice or customs form to receive the package.

Once completed, the person's information is stolen or malware is automatically installed on their computer.

Scam III: Social Networking – A Cybercriminal "Wants to be Your Friend”

Cybercriminals take advantage of this social time of the year by sending authentic-looking "New Friend Request” e-mails from social networking sites.

Internet users should beware that clicking on links in these e-mails can automatically install malware on computers and steal personal information.

Scam IV: The Dangers of Holiday E-Cards

Cyber thieves cash in on consumers who send holiday e-cards in an effort to be environmentally conscious. Last holiday season, McAfee Labs discovered a worm masked as Hallmark e-cards and McDonald's and Coca-Cola holiday promotions.

Holiday-themed PowerPoint e-mail attachments are also popular among cybercriminals. Be careful what you click on.

Scam V: "Luxury” Holiday Jewelry Comes at a High Price

McAfee Labs recently uncovered a new holiday campaign that leads shoppers to malware-ridden sites offering "discounted” luxury gifts from Cartier, Gucci, and Tag Heuer.

Cybercriminals even use fraudulent logos of the Better Business Bureau to trick shoppers into buying products they never receive.

Scam VI: Practice Safe Holiday Shopping – Online Identity Theft on the Rise

Forrester Research Inc. predicts online holiday sales will increase this year, as more bargain hunters turn to the Web for deals.

While users shop and surf on open hotspots, hackers can spy on their activity in an attempt to steal their personal information. McAfee tells users never to shop online from a public computer or on an open Wi-Fi network.

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