Holiday Hijinks – How To Protect Yourself


unhappy-christmas

Un-Merry Christmas

Despite the mischievous-sounding word ‘hijinks’ in the title there is nothing in the least playful about the scams that the dregs of the earth are willing to try during the holiday season. This is not necessarily a pleasant article but it is one that I sincerely hope will give you a wake-up call.

The goal, of course, is to find their way into your wallets and pocketbooks and lighten them up a bit. There are no limits to which they are willing to go in this endeavor so I’m here to warn you about some of them. Perhaps, with a heads-up approach, you won’t be one of the many people who will have an un-merry Christmas.

Some of the things the Creeps will try

E-Mail Scams

unhappy-emailWe get eMail scams year ’round. I and countless others have warned you about them for years. This time of year, however, more and more people are shopping online. This means you will be getting shipping notifications in your Inbox.

Take the time to take a close look at those notifications.

  • If you haven’t purchased anything from that particular store, trash it.
  • If you don’t recognize the sender, trash it.
  • If you don’t recognize the product, trash it.

Don’t click on links within these eMails. If the product is from NewEgg, go to the NewEgg website and investigate there. This applies no matter what online store we’re talking about. It is good advice all year round, too.

The creeps are after your online store login details so they can buy their families cool stuff with your money. They will many times do this by creating a look-alike site. You think you are at Amazon, but you’re not. Without thinking, you start entering in your login information and suddenly, the creep’s creepy kids get a new creepy toy for their creepy Christmas. Creepy…


Charity Scams

unhappy-charityThese are the ones that really yank my chain. People tend to be more generous around this time of year. Too bad the giving nature isn’t less fluctuating. Nevertheless, the creeps know this and will try to take advantage of this kind behavior. In my opinion this is the lowest form of creepiness.

Before you hand over hundreds of dollars to charities that may have won your heart, please do some research. Use your favorite search engine and determine that this particular charity is well-known and trusted.

If you don’t, you may as well be handing over your money to some guy on the street. That might actually prove to be the better deal– at least you’ll know where it went.

Fake charities abound on the Internet and come into their glory at Christmas time.

Smartphone App Scams

unhappy-smartphone-apps

Smartphones are little computers and are therefore as susceptible to the bad guys as their desktop cousins. Smartphones are a tad unique in that we install “apps” instead of what we might consider to be full-fledged programs. Mini-programs, if you will.


During this holly-jolly time of year the creeps will place fake shopping “apps” on App Stores. The idea is to trick people into entering banking details or credit card information in order to acquire this cute little “app”.

Only download shopping apps that have great reviews and are well-established. If you have any doubts, then you probably should trust your gut feelings.

E-Cards Scams

unhappy-ecards

We’ve all gotten them at one time or another. You know, those cute little animated cards that make you giggle and once again fall in love with the person who sent them? Beware! The creeps want to giggle, too.

Any card that comes from someone you don’t know should immediately be put in the trash bin. A “real” e-card will at the very least show you the sender’s name. If it’s anonymous or you don’t know the sender, then trash it. Period.

Even if the person is your dear friend, they might not realize it’s a scam they are passing on to you. Sad but true.

Social Network Scams

unhappy-social-networksSocial networks, such as Facebook, are a crook’s delight. There are so many people visiting these sites that the numbers simply play into their hands. Even if 1% of billions of visits end with reward, then a victory has been achieved. Consider for a moment what 1% of a billion might be. Now multiply that by 5 bucks a pop. It’s huge. And 5 bucks is nada… I will go out on a limb here and suggest that maybe 50 bucks on average is closer to the truth. Think about that, if you will…

Be wary of any and all links promoting free stuff. Especially be afraid of anyone asking you for information such as eMail addresses, banking information and/or credit card details. This will be obvious to informed DCT readers, but not to everyone. Even the seemingly harmless eMail address may lead to future SPAM and Phishing attacks or even Malware being surreptitiously placed on your computer.

Conclusions

These scumbags have no conscience. They will use any and all means on tap to separate you from your hard-earned cash. The above list is by no means comprehensive but it should give you an idea of what you may be up against.

As has been pointed out in the past, over and over again, your best defense against Internet fraud is yourself. If you don’t pay close attention to what you are clicking, you may well find yourself traveling down that lone dark road into Ethernet oblivion- with a lighter load, of course.

This is somewhat off-topic but it will serve to demonstrate a significant point. For many years now, writers such as myself have been saying, nay, yelling, about how important strong passwords are. We’ve also been yelling about not using the same password on more than one service/site. Judging by the results of the recent huge two million account breach that has been widely published of late all our yelling has been to no avail. A full 15,000+ of those accounts were “protected” by this password: 123456

“Nobody will ever guess that one.”, the dull monotone expounded.

  • Getting back to the point here, trust no one. Even if it’s your dearest most well-intentioned friend, they may not realize they are sending you something “bad”.
  • Pay close attention to what you are doing and be forever vigilant. Keep an eye on that address bar– be sure you are where you think you are.
  • If you ever meet one of these creeps, please throttle them for me– I would do the same for you. They are cowards at the basest level. They ruin what could be a beautiful Internet experience for the vast majority of us. If it was up to me, I’d have them all banished to the remotest spot on earth with no hope of redemption.
  • Just because you are feeling paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFneiheLMjk#t=0[/youtube]

I wish you all a wonderful and safe holiday season. Blatantly stealing a line from Hill street Blues, “Be careful out there…”,

Richard

Posted in:
About the Author

Richard Pedersen

Richard received his first computer, a C-64, in 1982 as a gift and began dabbling in BASIC. He was hooked! His love for computing has led him from the old “XT” boxes to the more modern fare and from clunky 10MB hard drives to smooth and fast modern day SSD drives. He has run BBS services, Fido mail, and even operated his own computer repair business.

There is one comment

Comments are closed.