1. Technology
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

12 Cyber Scams of Christmas


McAfee released its annual 12 scams of Christmas list which outlines the most common scams cyber-criminals use during the holiday season. This year’s list includes everything from bogus gift cards to fake charities and travel scams. Be on the lookout for the following holiday scams:


1. Malicious Mobile Apps

Android and Malware
Cyber-criminals can disguise malicious software as a trusted app to steal your personal information. These apps can steal your user name, password, account information, and analyze text messages and other sensitive information.

2. Mobile SMS Scams

Photo © R. Heath

Like malicious mobile apps, SMS scams can affect you by stealing your personal information such as user names, passwords, and bank account numbers. Look over your monthly bill closely and keep an eye out for suspicious text messaging charges. Furthermore, always update apps using an official app store such as the iOS App Store or Android’s Google Play.

3. Holiday Gift Scams

Photo © Richard Howard
If something looks too good to be true, then it probably is. Watch out for outrageous deals on electronic devices, such as the latest tablets and game consoles. Some of these scams may prompt you to click on a link to enter a contest or to get a great deal on a device for a limited time only. Clicking on these links may direct you to a malicious website that will try to trick you into submitting your personal information. Only shop at websites you trust and stay away from those you’ve never heard of.

4. Seasonal Travel Scams

Photo © Phil Matthews

Many of us travel during the holidays. Cyber-criminals take advantage of people looking for great online travel deals. Be suspicious of unrealistic low vacation prices and book your travel using reputable travel sites.

5. E-Season Greetings

Photo © Trisha Walter
People love sending e-cards, especially during the holiday season. Some e-cards can contain hidden malicious code that will infect your PC or mobile device as soon as you open it. Be careful when opening e-cards and delete those you receive from senders you don’t recognize.

6. Deceptive Online Games

Photo © Ray Lopez
Downloading malicious games can compromise your mobile device. Malware can take over your phone by changing your security settings and stealing your personal information. When downloading games, make sure you use official app stores. Also, read over the game reviews. People who have been victimized by fraudulent games often warn others by submitting a review.

7. Shipping Notification Scams

Photo © Nick Raimund
It’s common for you to receive shipments during the holiday season. Cyber-criminals use this opportunity to send emails containing fake shipping notifications in an attempt to steal your personal information. Think twice before entering your personal information into a form associated with a shipping notice.

8. Bogus Gift Cards

Photo © Erin Robinson

Gift cards are popular for those people on your list that are hard to shop for. Cybercriminals expose this situation by selling bogus gift cards online. Avoid buying gift cards from third-party websites and stick to official retailers.

9. Holiday SMiShing

Photo © Richard Howard
SMiShing (text messaging phishing) attacks are similar to phishing attacks but occur via a text message rather than an email. In a SMiShing attack, the cybercriminal sends a text message pretending to be a bank or legitimate business and urges you to provide your personal information to avoid an account lockdown. Rather than replying to the message, contact your bank or business directly if you have concerns with your account.

10. Fake Charities

Photo © T. Wilcox

Numerous fake charities surface during the holidays and attempt to persuade you into providing a donation. These charities use copied text and logos from authentic charity organizations. Before donating your money, confirm that the charity is legitimate.

11. Romance Scams

Photo © Jean Backus

The holiday season can be lonely for some people. Cybercriminals use photos and email messages to pretend to be a member of a dating website. They’re goal could be for you to provide them with your personal information or to visit a website infected with malware.

12. Fake E-Tailers

Photo © David Utter

There are plenty of malicious websites posing to be legitimate retailers that attempt to steal your personal information. Make sure you use trusted e-tailers when shopping online and avoid purchasing anything from unknown websites.

There you have it…the 12 most common shams you may encounter this holiday season. Enjoy the holidays and keep your identity safe by avoiding these 12 Christmas Scams!
  1. About.com
  2. Technology
  3. Antivirus Software
  4. Malware Information
  5. 12 Cyber Scams of Christmas

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.