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Christmas Scams and Cyberattacks to Watch Out

Holidays are just around the corner which means that cyberattacks and scams are about to become much more common. Hackers across the world are waiting to exploit any vulnerabilities in your network or any human error you might make while shopping for Christmas gifts for your friends, family members, or co-workers. Whether we like it or not, the Christmas scams and cyberattacks are bound to happen. The best way to defend ourselves from falling victim to these attacks is by learning about the scams and what signs to look out for. Here’s a comprehensive overview of all the most popular scamming techniques cybercriminals use around this time of year.

Delivery Related Scams

Hackers know that the Holidays are the busiest times for retailers and deliveries. You are sending out packages, ordering gifts, and receiving gifts which can get overwhelming really quickly. Experienced hackers take advantage of that chaos to gain access to your personal details in unconventional ways. During this time beware of any suspicious emails asking you to reconfirm your address or maybe send over your bank information for package delivery purposes. If you get any sort of email regarding your shipping, always check the tracking code or the package, as well as the sender’s email. Don’t click on any links without checking the URL first. You could end up at a website that will install the malware on your computer, ruining your Christmas in a matter of seconds. 

Bait and Switch Scams

Bait and Switch scams are also on the rise during the holiday season. Bait and Switch scams are banking on the naive users to fall for their “too good to pass” opportunities that are in reality just too good to be true. You could end up with an unexpectedly low-quality product or you may never get your order at all. In some cases, these websites could even be a part of a much bigger scheme that wants to get hold of your financial information and then drain your account completely.

Offline Christmas Scam to Watch Out For

While online scams usually hit their highs during Christmas, offline Christmas scams are just as prominent. Watch out for Holiday themed pyramid schemes. You might think that at least the holidays would be off the table for the scammers, but in reality, they use this time to play on people’s heartstrings and use their own vulnerabilities and emotions against them. You might come across some advertisements for gift exchange programs or “Secret Santa” games with strangers. Unless you know and trust the company that is doing the event, refrain from giving away your details or spending money on the gift. This scam is a way to avoid having any responsibility and duping innocent people into giving away money. We are not saying that any sort of gift exchange program is a scam, but if you choose to participate in something like this, make sure that you double-check the company and also read up the reviews from people who have participated in their programs before. 

Online Shopping Scams

Delivery scams aside, these are also extremely dangerous times for online shopping. A lot of us are visiting more websites during the holidays than at any other time of the year. We want to find the perfect gift for our loved ones and oftentimes it might require you to go to lesser-known websites. During these times it’s extremely important to practice additional caution when visiting new websites. 

How to Shop Safely Online Any Time of the Year

Now that we’ve covered most of the popular scamming practices, let's discuss some of the good online shopping practices you can apply any time of the year to protect yourself against scammers.

Use a VPN

Always use a VPN when browsing online. Your personal information could easily get exposed if you use an untrustworthy website. One mistake on your part, could give hackers the access to all the information you might exchange online - including your passwords, financial details, addresses, phone number - everything. When you use a VPN, even if someone tries to spy on your data, they won’t be able to get to anything as your online traffic will be redirected through an encrypted tunnel. BlufVPN has over 500 servers for you to choose from depending on what you are after. 

Check for HTTPS

First and foremost, always check that the website has an “HTTPS” instead of “HTTP”. The additional “S” stands for “Secure” and ensures that your connection to the website is encrypted and secure. 

Double-Check the URL

This might sound like a tedious task, and it is in some sense, but how many days out of the year are you creating an account on a foreign website? Most of us fall into the habit of shopping from a couple of places regularly. But when you do decide to branch out and order something from a different website, look out for signs that the website is legit. A very common practice among cybercriminals is to create websites that have the same name as one of the more famous shopping websites but change one or couple of letters so that an unattentive user will easily mistake the fake website for the real one. To avoid giving your information to a scammer, just double the URL to make sure you are on the correct website. 

Look at Reviews

A lot of websites will put fake reviews on their pages to convince inexperienced users that the review is real. Look out for reviews that seem too good to be true and watch out for websites that don’t have any negative feedback that will usually mean that the reviews have been either faked or heavily filtered. 

Do Not Click on Suspicious links

Lastly, never click on suspicious links that get sent to you via email or even different social media websites. You can apply the practice of checking the URL by hovering the mouse over the link and seeing the real URL before you open it in your browser. This way you can avoid falling victim to phishing scams or other malicious links that could destroy your computer and give access to your personal data to complete strangers. 

It might look like the internet is a wild place with no safeguards, but lucky for us these simple practices do a lot to protect us from the dangers of the internet. When it comes to browsing safely online it pays off to know what scams to look out for and which security practices and tools to invest in to ensure that you are safe online. While the cybercrime levels definitely rise during Christmas, if you use the tips mentioned in the article you should have a very safe and hassle-free Christmas shopping experience.

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