Article provided by Know Risk.
In the future, when we’re scooting around on our hoverboards (it’s closer than you think) we’ll think back to  as the year cyber crime went to the next level. Traditionally, it was the domain of shonky “lawyers” working on behalf of a wealthy, long-lost African relative who just wanted to send you millions of dollars out of the kindness of their heart, and of course, just needed your bank account details. Simple. However, these days there are many ways cyber-criminals can scam you into giving them your hard-earned dollars, particularly in the lead up to Christmas.
So here are the seven most common scams you need to watch out for this Christmas
1. Not so charitable
In Australia, the holiday season is often our most tragic, with the threat of bushfires and tropical storms never too far away. As Christmas is the time of giving, we’re always first to put our hands in our pockets and donate to those affected by disasters. Sadly, cyber-criminals like to seize on these moments and often trick us into donating to fake charities with cleverly designed email and social media campaigns that mirror legitimate ones and tug at our heart strings.
If you’re going to donate to a charity, do it through the charity’s official website or over the phone using their official phone number, that way you know your money is going to the right cause.
2. Spreading joy and junk
For the non-traditionalists, the digital e-card is a great way to offer your season’s greetings without having to lick any stamps. While there are plenty of well-known e-card websites, there are also plenty of fake Christmas e-cards that will be sent around by unknown senders. If you receive a digital Christmas card, be sure to check the sender before opening it and if the card asks you to click on a link or download software, don’t.
3. Hook, line and sinker
While phishing emails like those from our wealthy Nigerian relatives are a year-round occurrence, they certainly become more prevalent during the holiday season. The creators of these emails are much smarter than they used to be and may look to cash in on our desire for bargains. Instead of a plain word email, they design legitimate-looking emails promising deals, discounts and sales from trusted sources like the banks or retail outlets like JB Hi-Fi or Target.
With so many of us buying our gifts online and relying on shipping, targeted phishing emails pretending to be from Australia Post or couriers like FedEx often contain malicious links created to look legitimate.
When keeping track of your deliveries, go to the courier’s website and use the tracking code supplied by the shop you bought from rather than clicking on a link in any email. Sure, it may take you an extra moment but it’s certainly safer.
4. There’s no such thing as a free lunch
Social media is great. We get to look at reams of poorly taken photos of other people’s dinner and pass judgment on their holiday snaps. But one thing that has been popping up on social media sites is the “too good to be true” deal.
Be honest with yourself. Would you expect David Jones to be handing out Armani suits at 95% off or Harvey Norman to give away PlayStation 4s for $50? Not likely. Remember the adage that if something looks too good to be true, it usually is. As you’re scouring the web for this year’s must-have item, keep your eyes peeled for dodgy competitions on social media or links sent through an email and bogus gift cards.
5. Not so ‘appy days
With new smartphones or tablets on many people’s Christmas wish lists, there’s desire to get our hands on the latest apps. As with most things technology-based, cybercriminals have cottoned on and are increasingly releasing malicious apps used to steal data.
Before downloading any new apps, make sure you read the reviews first and take note of what permissions the app asks for. For parents, make sure your iTunes or Google Play passwords are kept away from your kids, in case they become tempted to download a new version of the Flapping Bird game.
6. Don’t be left stranded
Christmas time means school holidays, and many of us yearn to take a well-earned break and spend Christmas overseas. Unfortunately, travelling during this time of year is much more expensive than other times, something those pesky cybercriminals are well aware of. Looking to cash in on our need to get away, many cyber crooks will promote fake travel deals across email, social networks and legitimate-appearing websites.
In what is a double-whammy, these sites will not only take your money but clicking on malicious links will often install spyware. As we’ve said before if it looks too good to be true, it probably is, so when booking any travel plans, do so through a reputable website or travel agent. Use these tips on making sure the legitimate looking site you’ve been directed to is genuine.
7. The gift that keeps on stealing
Christmas means giving, and many companies will be giving away gift baskets as a thank you for doing business with them. Branded USBs are very popular these days and while very useful, make sure you know the company that has sent you the gift. Many USBs are pre-loaded with malware designed to steal your data once inserted into your PC.
If in doubt, throw it out.