Halloween is inching closer and holiday shopping is already picking up. However, on the other side of the spectrum, hackers and scammers also see this as an advantageous time to victimize shopping freaks.
Types of Halloween Scams
Cybercriminals create fake websites to attract Halloween shoppers with attractive deals and offers. Shoppers have to keep a watch on certain things like URL lacking security features, such as http in the address bar instead of https, no proper contact information, and so on. These are the obvious red flags to doubt that a website might be bogus.
A majority of online shoppers fall for promising deals on such fake websites, pay for their purchases, but receive nothing but Judas kiss in return.
Halloween harbingers religious and auspicious sentiments among its believers, and many people make it a point to help the needy by through charitable deeds. Many of such charity funds are collected by organizations that create a web presence online and ask for generous donations on behalf of underprivileged communities. However, it is important to verify the source of such organizations before committing a charity, because many of them are fly-by-the-night groups who cheat in the name of donations.
When it comes to charity, it is best to do it the traditional way and commit to alms in person. Additionally, charity need not always be money – you can donate food, clothes, and even your volunteer time to make other people’s lives better.
The rate of email landing in your mailbox almost doubles during holiday seasons, and a fraction of these emails will inherently contain mails that claim on a promise that sounds too good to be true. Take for example an email coming from a profit-making computer manufacturer stating that you could win a brand new laptop if you click a link in the mail and give out your details. Or a Prince from Nigeria asking you to help him out of a difficult financial situation in exchange of a chunk of his billion-dollar inheritance.
Understand that no company will ever give free laptops to you and announce it over emails, and a Nigerian Prince should never be trusted until you meet one personally. Stay wary of such phishing emails, because no body is The trick here is simple, to make you click on the given links and either steal your data by dropping spy softwares or coaxing you to furnish your personal information.
If required, check the authenticity of such links by typing their URL address on a new tab rather than clicking on them
Credit Card Fraud:
Hackers always come up with innovative ways to steal information from us. While you are splurging on your holiday shopping using your credit card for almost all purchases, frauds use a hacking technique called the skimming to steal your card information and misuse it for their own gains. Many victims don’t even realize the damage until they go through their transaction summary, and sometimes it’s too late to withdraw such payments.
There have been instances when cashiers at retail outlets swipe your credit card twice or takes note of your card number for a later use. Another common technique that fraudsters employ is through the installing a third-party “reading tool” in the card swiping terminals that stealthily records the card details. Stay alert and be wary of whom you hand over your card to. Also, keep track of your card transactions routinely so that you can alert your financial institution against processing the payment or entirely blocking the card.
You must also be very watchful about guarding your credit and debit cards in order to prevent from being a victim of identity theft.
Using Public Wi-Fi and Hotspots:
Public wi-fi is a treacherous territory, because most of these networks are not encrypted for safety.
When you are viewing your credit card transactions sitting at the food court of your favorite mall, it’s like you’re virtually putting up a tele-prompter for others to read the information you’re keying in.
Additionally, cybercriminals are also known to set-up free hotspot and wi-fi zones to bait people into sharing their valuable information. If you have to use a public wi-fi or hotspot, make sure that you disable your file sharing feature and only browse secure websites prefixed by https. If your device doesn’t have a good antivirus or firewall software, you should consider getting one. And if you already have one and you are not using it, then you should reconsider using them proactively.
Manish is a former journalist who works as a blog consultant for Comodo. He completed his Master’s in Corporate Communications in 2011 from Lindenwood University in Saint Charles. As a tech blogger, Manish has a penchant for writing about the latest trends in the InfoSec industry. You can find him on LinkedIn (https://in.linkedin.com/in/manishnepal).
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