Common Scams to Look Out for During the Holidays

By December 12, 2017 Security
img email protect iStock 589542594

While most of us are busy buying gifts for our loved ones and organizing secret Santa sprees at work, cybercriminals are also hard at work capitalizing on people’s generosity and trying to distract busy shoppers.

With cybercrime now being a multi-billion-dollar global industry, it’s up to everyone to keep an eye out for online scams and be ready to act accordingly.

You owe it to your employees and the security of your business to get everyone onboard and familiar with the latest threats. The holiday season is no exception, so it’s wise to sit down with your team and make sure they’re aware of the latest threats and how to combat them.

Here are some of the most common scams doing the rounds this holiday season:

#1. Fake Charity Scams

After spending a fortune on gifts, dining out, and other events to celebrate the time of year, many people are also tempted to give to charity, particularly if an organization that’s asking for money sounds like a familiar one championing a popular cause. Criminals are fully aware of this fact; hence, fake charity scams tend to become more pervasive around the holiday season.

Fake charities exist to capitalize on people’s compassion while exploiting those who are genuinely in need. By posing as a genuine charity, they’ll steal money and divert it away from legitimate organizations. Fortunately, avoiding these scams is usually quite straightforward. After all, no legitimate charity will ask for money over email, and the only safe way to donate money is to approach the charity directly.

#2. Phishing Scams

Phishing scammers never take a break, but they tend to be more prolific when people are distracted by online shopping sprees. Phishing scams are more effective during the holiday season, since criminals expect email inboxes to be flooded with invoices, receipts and order information. Because of this, scammers may ask people to provide payment or delivery information to complete an order.

If there is a real problem with any order you place, the message referring to it should provide some specific information, such as an order number, a reference to the item purchased and the amount paid. If there isn’t any personalized information in the email, then you can be sure that it’s a phishing scam. Additionally, no legitimate retailer will ever ask for payment or personal information over email.

#3. Secret Shopper Scams

The secret shopper scam is an old one but, with every holiday season, it takes on a slightly different form. The scam involves supplying victims with gift cards they are supposed to use while shopping online to evaluate a retailer’s customer service, product quality, delivery and other factors. As a reward, you’ll be able to keep any items you order or even get paid for your work. Of course, that never happens.

Some advertising firms do indeed recruit secret shoppers, but they certainly don’t do so via a random message on social media or email. Furthermore, real companies will never, under any circumstances, ask you to provide personal information, let alone bank account details to join such a program. To be on the safe side, you should ignore any secret shopper emails unless you know exactly who they are and you are expecting the message.

All these scams are designed to take advantage of the holiday spirit and twist it into something nefarious. Fortunately, your business and employees don’t have to be vulnerable. By partnering with a dependable IT consulting firm and training your staff, you’ll be able to stop scams dead in their tracks. Contact Truewater today to find out how we can help.



Truewater was established in 2001 with the vision of bringing enterprise class IT support to small and medium sized businesses.