Cyber crooks are on the prowl all year long, but the holiday season brings them even more opportunities to drain your bank account and rack up fraudulent credit card purchases. It’s been estimated that half of American consumers will use a smart phone for holiday shopping, increasing their chances of becoming the next scam victim. Prevention begins with understanding the risks and putting safe practices in place when using a smart phone or shopping online this holiday season.
Smart phone are prime targets for hackers with more consumers freely using them for banking and purchasing. But just like a computer, malware can be secretly downloaded that can cause tremendous damage to your accounts. One of the most vulnerable are QR codes you scan with your Android phone to unlock deals that may lead you to a page with a virus that unbeknownst to you is downloaded to your phone. In addition, malicious apps are sometimes disguised as free apps. Look for apps that come from respected companies.
Social media sites are full of fun and games that offer opportunities to win prizes while reconnecting with long lost friends. But the danger lies in the links that cover up a scammer’s efforts to steal your personal information. Caution is the word – beware offers that are too good to be true or ask for financial or personal information.
Scareware is the term used for ominous scare tactics used to get you to click on a link and download malware cloaked as an antivirus software product. Keep in mind that legitimate antivirus companies do not use pop-ups and threats to sell their products.
Virtual coupons are the electronic version of the traditional paper ones used by millions to save a buck. While the effort may be financially beneficial, there are unscrupulous thieves polluting the web with fictitious deals that lead to malware-ridden sites. Use reputable sites like RedPlum.com and Smartsource.com for secure coupon savings.
Another way crooks appeal to frugal people looking for a deal is by advertising a popular, hard-to-find item. The scheme is to undercut the retail price to make it especially attractive and then steal from those who use their credit card to make the purchase.
Free holiday screensavers, according to McAfee, have lured over 4 million Android users to become victims of malware by downloading them to their computers and mobile phones. Once loaded onto the device, the app will scrounge through your data for identification and personal information.
Mystery shopper opportunities are rampant online; scammers use the need of job to lure unsuspecting people into believing they can make considerable income. By targeting people looking to make money, they often find people in desperate situations who willingly provide credit card numbers and personal information and end up getting burned in the end by identity theft.
Consumers need to be vigilant when using technology to make purchases. Always use a reputable service and look for https// in front of the website name for additional security.
About The Author: Noreen Ruth is a popular writer for Debt OMG’s financial blog and various other websites. Hoping to educate consumers, she uses government and other reputable sources to provide up-to-date, relevant news on credit, debt, debt settlement & relief and other finance related topics. She stays current on the latest legislative actions that may affect a consumer’s ability understand credit card applications, apply for credit, utilize money management services, etc.
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