The holiday shopping flurry is well underway, and this unfortunately means that cybercriminals and con artists are working overtime.
2020 has already seen a rise in cybercrime in general, including account breaches, credit card fraud and other types of scams. This is only getting worse this holiday season because COVID-19 has caused more people to stay home from the mall and shop online than ever before.
When you’re shopping online, you’re in reach of hackers from every corner of the world. Even if you’re at your desk going through email, all it takes is one wrong click to become a victim.
How bad is it? Here are some cybersecurity statistics from 2020 that already show how scams are increasing:
- Records compromised due to data breaches were up 48% in the first quarter of 2020, and that’s not including a single large breach that exposed 5.1 billion records alone.
- In April 2020, the FBI reported seeing a 400% increase in the number of cybercrime complaints.
- Between Q1 2019 and Q1 2020, credit card fraud skyrocketed by 104%.
Scams That are Rampant & the Consequences of Lax Security
These scams can come in many forms and multiply quickly when you throw the rush of the holiday shopping season into the mix.
Here are the main types of seasonal scams to watch out for and what the impact can be to you or your business.
Holiday Data Breach Scams
Phishing emails with holiday themes run rampant this time of year. These are generally designed to get a recipient to do one of two things:
- Click a link
- Open a file attachment
Either of those two actions can mean a major data breach for a business. Links can lead to sites that inject a device with malicious code (ransomware, spyware, etc.) as soon as the page is loaded. They can also take users to spoofed login forms designed to steal a person’s credentials to an account like Microsoft 365.
File attachments will often contain malware, which can even be hidden in seemingly innocent Word or Excel files by using the macro feature.
Some of the work-related holiday phishing scams seen this time of year are:
- Fake holiday party survey or directions
- Scam emails pretending to be holiday schedules for vendors
- Fake order or shipment tracking emails
How can these types of holiday scams impact a company? A data breach or ransomware infection brings with it multiple costs. These costs come from lost business, lost productivity, and more.
The average cost of a data breach is 3.86 million.
Credit Card Fraud
The holiday season is also a dangerous time for credit card fraud. People are shopping online for presents and can easily get fooled by slick-looking websites or mobile apps promising great deals.
Once a person’s credit card details are compromised, they can be sold on the Dark Web and cause major problems for the person that is left having to sort everything out with their bank.
The sneakiest scams won’t charge anything big to your card. Instead, they’ll make small charges of under $50 with generic sounding names that show up on your credit card statement. These smaller charges are easily missed by people, especially when they may have several legitimate ones coming in from different retailers.
Some of the holiday credit card scams that the FBI warns to watch out for are:
- Fake U.S. contact addresses on websites used to mislead victims
- Sites that use product images that were stolen from another site
- Being shipped masks instead of what was actually ordered, and not being able to get a refund
- Websites where the URL was registered within the last 6 months
The average loss reported by victims of credit card fraud in 2019 was $780.00. But when it came to direct financial losses, the average was $7,761 per victim.
Other Holiday Scams
Other holiday scams can be designed to simply take your money, such as fake charity requests. They may also sell you substandard merchandise that looks nothing like the product image you saw online.
Gift cards scams are also rampant this time of year, where an employee receives a text or email purporting to be from a manager at their company asking them to purchase X number of gift cards.
This is usually accompanied by a direction that they’re needed right away and that the requester is going to “be unreachable” by phone for a few hours.
As soon as the duped employee sends the gift card numbers, the scammer makes off with them.
Tips to Stay Safe This Holiday Season
Staying safe includes a mix of technology solutions to keep your data protected and best practices for online security:
- Use an antivirus/anti-malware on your device
- Use a DNS filter to block malicious websites
- Filter out phishing with a spam filter
- Don’t shop websites that you aren’t familiar with
- Research retailer reviews online before you buy
- Use alternate payment methods like pre-paid cards or PayPal
- Be wary of any emails you receive that are unexpected
- If money is involved in an email request, check with the purported sender by phone or in person first (e.g. the gift card scam)
Is Your Network Protected from Holiday Scams?
If your network has the proper security in place it’s much more impervious to these holiday scams. ProdigyTeks can help your Chicago business with an assessment and suggestions for any needed protections.
Schedule a free phone consultation today! Call 312-600-8357 or reach us online.
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