Everyone lets their hair down at this time of the year. They travel, party, shop, and sometimes do such a great job of getting into the festive spirit that they become less naturally cautious. It’s a happy time of the year for scammers and criminals who love the “silly season” for all the opportunities to steal your money and personal information.
Scammers’ methods may change, but they all have one thing in common: They want you to click on their links. These links can take you to a fake site where they’ll steal all the information you enter, or the links may contain malware that can infect your device.
Don’t become a victim! The secret is to use a URL scanner to protect yourself from dangerous websites. Here’s our advice on avoiding three of the most common holiday scams you may encounter this year.
What are the warning signs of Holiday Scams?
It was easier to spot spoofing or phishing attempts in the past because scam emails often contained spelling and grammar errors or obvious variances in logos or branding. But scammers have come a long way and don’t make those basic mistakes often anymore. They set up professional-looking websites with seemingly legitimate contact and company information.
Common sense may not be enough to protect you, and you’ll be far safer using digital tools to protect you from holiday scams.
What are common scams during the holiday season?
The Golden Oldies among holiday season scams rely on an almost endless variety of phishing or spoofing scams. Scammy email links may lead to package delivery scams, fake gift cards or fake retail site scams, fake charity scams, and loads of other scams. It can be tough to distinguish authentic emails from spoofed emails because your spam filter can’t always detect them.
Some VPNs have anti-malware features that warn you before clicking on a malicious link. When you try to access a website, the VPN will check the site against a list of known malicious sites and display a warning message if needed. Even if the website is legitimate, the VPN will still encrypt your personal data and protect it from online snoopers while you shop.
It’s ‘shopping season,’ and we’re getting more delivery tracking emails than usual. Scammers spam inboxes with phishing emails that ask for personal information, additional delivery payments or extra fees, tracking emails, or order confirmations.
Don’t click on the link. Find the company’s website through a new browser search or by typing the direct URL. Log into your account – any legitimate messages will appear on your dashboard.
We all feel like giving back during the holiday season, and scammers take advantage by bombarding people with requests to donate. You may receive emails containing links to fake sites, or you could run across such fake sites while shopping on the internet. Scammers use the branding and logos from real charities to misrepresent themselves as legitimate.
Don’t click on the link. First, check the organization’s legitimacy via the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search tool or a website like CharityWatch.org or CharityNavigator.org.
Fake Promotional offers
Fake retail sites list holiday discounts, deals, and promotions with spectacular deals of a lifetime. Often, they pressure you to act quickly with countdown timers. Unsuspecting shoppers then click on a link that infects their device with malware or leads to a site where they’ll record all your personal and credit card information.
Don’t click on the link. Navigate to the website and ensure the domain belongs to a reputable website or company. Keep in mind that if something seems to be too good to be true, it probably is.
Tools to protect you from Holiday Scams
Most antivirus solutions can protect you from clicking on a link to a known malicious site. Stick to a well-known antivirus solution like BitDefender, MalwareBytes, or Norton.
But malware is not the only threat. You must also protect your private information and credit card details while shopping online. NordVPN has anti-malware features and a URL scanner which can be even more effective than an antivirus at combating holiday scams.