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November 16, 2010

McAfee warns users against 12 online scams this Christmas

Five steps advised to avoid falling prey to these scams

By CBR Staff Writer

McAfee has revealed 12 most dangerous online scams that computer users should be cautious in this holiday season of Christmas.

The ‘Twelve Scams of Christmas’ include iPad offer scams, "Help! I’ve Been Robbed" scam, fake gift cards, holiday job offers, "Smishing", suspicious holiday rentals, recession scams, Grinch-like greetings, low price traps, charity scams, dangerous holiday downloads, and hotel and airport wi-fi.

iPad offer scams may include scammers distributing bogus offers to fetch credit card details, and "Help! I’ve Been Robbed" scam includes sending of distress messages to travellers’ family and friends for wiring money.

The fake gift cards scams include cybercrooks using social media to promote fake gift card offers with the goal of stealing consumers’ information and money, while holiday job offers scams include luring people who seek extra cash for gifts this holiday season.

Cybercrooks are now "smishing," or sending phishing SMS texts that appear to come from your bank or an online retailer saying that there is something wrong with an account and you have to call a number to verify your account information, thereby creating a trap for the victim.

Suspicious holiday rentals scams include cybercrooks posting fake holiday rental sites to cheat consumers who often look online for affordable holiday rentals, while recession scams continue such as pay-in-advance credit schemes.

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Grinch-like greetings scams include cybercriminals loading fake versions with links to computer viruses and other malware instead of cheer, and low price traps scams include cyber scammers using auction sites and fake websites to offer too-good-to-be-true deals with the goal of cheating.

Charity scams include phone calls and spam e-mails asking people to donate to veterans’ charities, children’s causes and catastrophe relief funds; dangerous holiday downloads scams include scammers offering holiday-themed screensavers, jingles and animations to spread viruses; and hotel and airport wi-fi scams include cybercrooks trying to steal information from users by offering them free wi-fi access.

McAfee Labs director of security research Dave Marcus said scams continue to be big business for cybercriminals who have their sights set on capitalising on open hearts and wallets this holiday season.

"As people jump online to look for deals on gifts and travel, it’s important to recognize common scams to safeguard against theft during the busy season ahead," Marcus said.

McAfee has advised Internet users to follow five tips to protect their computers and personal information in lieu of these cyber threats.

The security firm has advised users to stick to well-established and trusted sites, and not to respond to offers that arrive in a spam email, text or instant message.

McAFee has also advised online users to preview a link’s Web address before clicking, to stay away from vendors that offer prices well below the norm, and make sure to use trusted wi-fi networks.

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