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What are the top holiday scams in 2023?
Along with turkey, football and crazy relatives, Thanksgiving also marks the start of the busiest shopping season of the year. Even with inflation and increased cost of living, Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday tend to bring out the shoppers and this year is no different.
Early reports show that online spending was up 5.5% year over year on Thanksgiving day with Americans spending nearly $5.6 billion shopping online, and an additional $9.8 billion on Black Friday.
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the spike in consumer spending also creates a spike in scams. While the scams rarely change, they often work because consumers innately let their guards down during the busy holiday season.
Here are some of the most common scams making the rounds this year and what you can do to protect yourself.
One of the most common holiday scams consumers will encounter is fraudulent delivery notifications. Usually delivered via text, messages of this type impersonate a delivery service provider, such as FedEx, UPS or USPS, and cite a delivery issue (i.e., bad address) with a malicious link conveniently included to remediate the problem – which is most likely a malware download. How can you avoid falling for this scam?
Another common holiday season scam is malicious imposter websites. These sites masquerade as legitimate online retailers but are built with the intent of stealing financial and personal information.
The sites are usually promoted through phishing emails, texts, social media or digital advertising – and usually advertise items at low prices or customized items such as “your animal as a cartoon” art print. Whether the malicious websites are spoofing large retailers like Amazon and Target, or smaller boutique businesses, there are several red flags to watch out for.
If you prefer to shop online, only shop from trusted retailers and use credit cards as much as possible, which usually offer inherent fraud protection. And if you come across any advertisements for a potentially malicious site, practice caution and avoid clicking.
Travel-related scams traditionally increase during the holiday season and this year is no different. With nearly 47% of consumers planning to hit the road this year, scammers will be looking to capitalize on the traffic.
With the rise of rental sites like Air BNB and VBRO, many travelers are on the lookout for good rental deals, and many threat actors are advertising fraudulent ones that simply don’t exist. Once a party is interested, they try to persuade them to communicate and place a deposit through unsecured or untraceable methods and disappear. Here are some best practices to avoid falling for this popular scam.
The holiday season is also the season of giving. Unfortunately, the season of giving means the season of stealing for scammers who use fake charities to solicit donations, which reached $1.6 billion in 2021 alone. Below are some of the best practices to ensure you are donating securely and safely to legitimate organizations.
While there are many other scams out there with different coats of paint, they often share the same red flags, which include:
No matter what scam is used, you can protect yourself online by using simple, yet effective online shopping behaviors, including:
Remember, these scams are around all year, but go into overdrive during the holidays. We hope this article helps you and yours enjoy the holiday season securely.
The Schneider Downs cybersecurity practice consists of experts offering a comprehensive set of information technology security services, including penetration testing, intrusion prevention/detection review, ransomware security, vulnerability assessments and a robust digital forensics and incident response team. In addition, our Digital Forensics and Incident Response teams are available 24x7x365 at 1-800-993-8937 if you suspect or are experiencing a network incident of any kind.
To learn more, visit our dedicated Cybersecurity page.
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