The 12 Days of Scams: A Holiday Cybersecurity Carol

As we deck the halls with boughs of holly, cyber scammers are also decking their schemes with baits of folly! Welcome to our special holiday series, "The 12 Days of Scams." In this blog, we'll unwrap the most common holiday scams, adding a dash of humor to our serious advice on keeping your festive season merry, bright, and secure.

Our Story Begins:

Day 1: Phishing Emails Disguised as Holiday Deals

Scam: "On the first day of Christmas, the scammers sent to me: A phishing email in a pear tree!"

Phishing scams are fraudulent attempts made by cybercriminals to trick people into revealing sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details. These scams involve impersonating a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication, such as an email, text message, or phone call. The goal is to deceive the victim into believing that the communication is genuine, and then use their information for malicious purposes.

Avoidance Tip: Be wary of emails offering unbelievable deals. Always verify the sender and avoid clicking on suspicious links.

Day 2: Fake Charity Donations

Scam: "On the second day of Christmas, the scammers played on glee: Two turtle doves and a fake charity plea!"

Fake charity scams involve scammers posing as legitimate charities to solicit donations from unsuspecting victims. Scammers use fake websites, emails, or calls to request donations, which are then kept by the scammers and not used for any charitable purpose.

Avoidance Tip: Donate to known charities and verify their authenticity before contributing. Scammers often exploit generosity during the holidays.

Day 3: Compromised Online Shopping Sites

Scam: "On the third day of Christmas, the scammers gave a spree: Three French hens and a compromised shopping spree!"

Compromised online shopping sites are hacked websites where attackers steal sensitive information or manipulate the website's content. In some cases, they take control of the site and spread malware.

Avoidance Tip: Shop on reputable websites. Check for the padlock symbol in the URL bar and ensure the address starts with 'https://'.


Day 4: E-Card Email Scams

Scam: "On the fourth day of Christmas, the scammers sent with glee: Four calling birds with malicious e-card spree!"

E-card email scams are phishing emails that appear to be from a legitimate source. The email contains a link to view an e-card, but the link takes the victim to a malicious website that may contain malware or request personal information. The scammer may also try to ask for money or other forms of payment.

Avoidance Tip: Be cautious of electronic greeting cards. Verify the sender and ensure it's from a known e-card platform.

Day 5: Package Delivery Scams

Scam: "On the fifth day of Christmas, the scammers planned with glee: Five golden rings and a fake delivery!"

Package delivery scams are fraud where scammers pose as legitimate delivery companies to steal personal information or money. They contact victims via email, text, or call and ask for personal details to deliver a package. Once the victim provides the information, the scammer uses it for identity theft or to steal money.

Avoidance Tip: Be skeptical of unsolicited delivery notifications. Verify through official courier websites or apps.

Day 6: Travel Scams

Scam: "On the sixth day of Christmas, the scammers showed to me: Six geese a-laying, and a too-good-to-be-true journey!"

Travel scams target tourists and involve selling fake or overpriced goods/services. Examples include fake travel agents, packages, insurance, websites, reviews, and social media accounts.

Avoidance Tip: Book travel through reputable agencies and verify any too-good-to-be-true offers.

Day 7: Gift Card Gifts

Scam: "On the seventh day of Christmas, the scammers had a spree: Seven swans a-swimming in a sea of fake gift cards!"

This is a common scam where a person receives an unsolicited message offering a free gift card. The message has a link to a website that asks for personal information, including credit card details. Providing such details can be risky as the website can make unauthorized purchases or access the recipient's bank account.

Avoidance Tip: Purchase gift cards from official retailers and be wary of deeply discounted cards sold online.

Day 8: Social Media Scams

Scam: "On the eighth day of Christmas, the scammers liked for free: Eight maids a-milking likes in a scamming spree!"

Social media giveaways and contest scams involve fraud, asking for personal information or payment to receive a reward, but the user never gets it. Scammers disguise these scams as legitimate giveaways, making them hard to detect.

Avoidance Tip: Be cautious of giveaways and contests on social media that require personal information or payments.

Day 9: Fake Holiday Apps

Scam: "On the ninth day of Christmas, the scammers coded with glee: Nine ladies dancing in a malicious app spree!"

Beware of holiday-themed apps that may look legitimate but are actually malicious programs designed to steal personal information or spread malware. These apps are commonly found in app stores and can be challenging to distinguish from legitimate apps.

Avoidance Tip: Download apps from official app stores and check reviews and developer information.

Day 10: Wi-Fi Honeypots

Scam: "On the tenth day of Christmas, the scammers set for me: Ten lords a-leaping in a fake Wi-Fi sea!"

Wi-Fi honeypot scams are fake networks that look like real ones. People who connect to them can have their data stolen.

Avoidance Tip: Avoid using public Wi-Fi for sensitive transactions. Use a VPN for added security.

Day 11: Bogus Holiday Job Offers

Scam: "On the eleventh day of Christmas, the scammers promised me: Eleven pipers piping with a job that's not to be!"

Beware of holiday job scams offering high salaries for little work. Scammers may ask for personal information or upfront fees for training materials or services. Be cautious of job offers that seem too good to be true.

Avoidance Tip: Be skeptical of high-paying job offers for little work, especially if they ask for personal information upfront.

Day 12: Credit Card Skimming

Scam: "On the twelfth day of Christmas, the scammers skimmed from me: Twelve drummers drumming and a drained credit spree!"

Credit card skimming is a form of fraud where a thief steals credit card information with a small device installed on ATMs or gas pumps. The device captures the cardholder's information, including the card number, expiration date, and security code, which is then used for unauthorized purchases or to make counterfeit cards.

Avoidance Tip: Regularly monitor your bank statements and use credit card chip readers instead of swiping.

Don't let cyber scammers dampen your holiday spirit – stay informed, stay safe, and keep your holidays merry, bright, and secure.

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