Tis the Season for Holiday Cyber Scams

by | Dec 5, 2023 | "How To" Articles, Cybersecurity, INSI Articles

Tis the season when money is tight and cybercriminals are lurking at every corner to take advantage of unsuspecting holiday shoppers. Fortunatly, INSI has the inside scoop on how to protect your business and personal finances from cyber scams.

Beware of To-Good-To-Be-True Online Holiday Cyber Scams

We live in unprecedented times where most purchases are online, cybercrime is on the rise, and inflation has caused most people to stretch their dollars and lower thier holiday budgets. Ads are popping up like crazy on every website you visit and social media accounts with to-good-to-be-true holiday discounts. 

The pressure to buy gifts is on for family, friends, teachers, children’s friends, your mail carrier, hairdresser, Operation Christmas Child, Toys for Tots, or any other charity someone brings to your attention. Then there is the added expense of wrapping paper, shipping, secret Santa, friend parties, charity events, tickets to the Nutcracker, Christmas pageants, and school parties for each child.

Are you feeling the pinch yet? All the people you bought for during times of prosperity now expect presents from you, and your dollar does not stretch like it used to. So, how do you pull this off without looking like the biggest Grinch that ever stole Christmas? You have to be the best world’s bargain shopper; luckily, some of the best deals come straight social media page. This article will help you understand why and how you are targeted.

Social Media Online Holiday Cyber Scams

Social media apps have a treasure trove of information such as your likes, dislikes, interests, political views, clothing style, and recent interests in products or services – many of them access data collected by other social media apps. In addition, data brokers quietly collect your demographic information, public records, credit checks, background checks, search history, and third-party data to sell  to a various buyers, including scammers.

What does this have to do with holiday cyber scams? This big data moves quickly and can inundate you with targeted advertisements based on any of the information collected above. If you plan on going to the Alps for Christmas, you will be inundated with snow gear. If you have a young child, you will get multiple ads based on their sex and age. So on, and so on. 

Below are the types of scams you might see on social media. Buyer beware!

Social Media Ads to Fake Stores

Look-alike stores promote deep discounts of 50% or more on popular items. Do not click on these links. These scammers will steal your credit card number or make you use other payment methods that cannot be reversed. Instead of clicking on the link, look up the company’s online reputation and see if there are complaints about them. Or search the items title through a browser and buy from a recognized source. If you accidently end up on one of these sites, you can recognize them because they have poor grammar or spelling, and they do not have contact information. 

Social Media Ads Promoting Fraudulent Items

Posts or ads that are to-be-true are often linked to malicious websites intended to steal your personal information and money or send a phony or counterfeit item. I once bought a Thomas Kincade Christmas Tree decoration from a Facebook ad for $36. This particular decoration usually sells for $99. It took a long time, but I finally got an envelope that held an 8X10 sticker of the decoration. I could not track down the company to get my money back. Again, a good rule of thum is to search for the title through a browser and buy from a reputatable source, or don’t buy at all.

Social Media Chat Phishing Scams

Do you ever wonder why you get so many new friendship posts from friends you already have on that same site? Or why your online friends are sending you social chat messages with an enticing links to great deals? Scammers often hijack someone’s social media account to send links to their friends through the chat feature. The message entices users to click on a malicious link that downloads malware. Instead of clicking, reach out to your friend and verify they sent a link.

Social Media Fake Online Give Aways and Surveys

Posts that offer free cash, gift cards, or prizes in exchange for personal information are scams. Sometimes, they will ask for financial information, information on your workplace, or a small shipping fee or deposit to get your free gift. Don’t do this.

Social Media Fraudulent Charity Scams

Tis the season to give, and in that heart of giving, their are always cyber criminals lurking on the web ready to take your money for false charities or go-fund-me campaigns. Only give to reputable charities.

Lonely Hearts Cyber Scams

The holidays can be the loneliest times for those who have lost a loved one, are in-between relationships, or are introverts. Perpetrators prey on victims for financial gain. Sometimes, they use pictures of models or beautiful people to trick their victims. Often, they spam hundreds of people before finding a willing victim. These scams come in the way of catfishing, dating websites, or social media sites, and they will ask for expensive gifts or money for themselves or family members in need. 

Summary on Holiday Online Cyber Scams

It’s a scary world, and many bad actors want to take advantage of good hearted people. However, you can avoid most of these scams with the following protections:

  • Install Antivirus and 2-factor Authentication
  • Learn How to Identify a Fake Website
  • Don’t Share Your Information With Unkown Sources
  • Only Buy Gift Cards From Well Known Companies
  • Don’t Click on Links Until You Have Verified the Source
  • Research the Retailers
  • Use Credit Cards or Gift Cards for Online Purchases
  • Question To-Good-To-Be-True Deals

 Follows these rules and you will get the gifts you want for a great holiday season.

INSI – The Top Atlanta GA Cybersecurity Advisors

For more information about cybersecurity preventative measures for your company, contact the top MSP in Atlanta, Contact INSI: 770-387-2424, option 2. In addition, we offer 16 different cybersecurity programs to protect you and your data.

About INSI: The Best MSP in Atlanta!

Innovative Network Systems, Inc. has a unique approach to integrating IT support and cybersecurity. Our month-to-month programs range from basic support to proactive support, managed support, and customized support. Each program is tailored to the client’s needs and internal IT strengths.  

For more information about cybersecurity dangers and the preventative measures for your company, connect with the top MSP in Atlanta; Contact INSI: 770-387-2424, option 2 or click the link below. In addition, we offer 16 different cybersecurity programs to protect you and your data.

About the Author

Deborah Frazier is the author of IT Outsourcing Secrets – A Small Business Guide to Compare IT Support Companies. With nearly 20 years of experience consulting small and medium-sized businesses on their IT support needs, she brings a wealth of knowledge to INSI as Head of Marketing and Sales. If you like this article and want to be notified when a new article is posted, click here.

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