E-shopping: 12 ways you can be trapped

McAfee revealed that more than 70 per cent Indians are planning to shop online this festive season and cyber scrooges are working overtime to trap them.
Twelve ways you can be trapped while e-shopping, cyber-criminals,

McAfee has recently revealed in its shopping study survey 2012 the vulnerability of Indians while e-shopping. While Indians are slowly getting accustomed to online shopping, and will do so in droves, they are also using their mobile phones for more of their everyday activities. 

 More than half of those surveyed plan to shop online this holiday season, a surprising 3 in 4 (71%) of them plan to use their mobile devices, and while aware of the risks, they are willing to give away their personal information if they can get something they value in return. Mobile devices have proven irresistible to cyber-criminals, and now they are targeting users through malicious applications. The trend of high app usage is evident from the fact that 96% of the surveyed respondents used mobile apps. Here are the twelve check points one should keep in mind before they proceed for any transaction on the web:

  1. Social media scams — Many of us use social media sites to connect with family, friends and co-workers over the holidays, and the cybercriminals know that this is a good place to catch you off-guard because all are friends. Here are some ways that criminals will use these channels to obtain shopper’s gift money, identity or other personal information:

·         Scammers use channels, like Facebook and Twitter, just like email and websites to scam consumers during the holidays. Be careful when clicking or liking posts, while taking advantage of contests, ads and special deals that you get from your ‘friends’ that advertise the hottest Holiday gifts, exclusive discounts at local stores, holiday-related jobs postings, and your friends’ accounts being hacked and sending out fake alerts to all their ‘friends.’

·          Criminals are getting savvier with authentic-looking social ads and deals that take consumers to legitimate looking websites. In order to take advantage of the deals or contests, they ask them for personal information that can obtain a shopper’s credit card number, email address, phone number or home address.

2)      Malicious Mobile Apps—As smartphone users we are app crazy, downloading over 25 billion apps for Android devices alone! But as the popularity of applications has grown, so have the chances that you could download a malicious application designed to steal your information or even send out premium-rate text messages without your knowledge.

3)      Travel Scams—Before you book your flight or hotel to head home to see your loved ones for the holidays, keep in mind that the scammers are looking to hook you with too-good-to-be-true deals. Phony travel web pages, sometimes using your preferred company, with beautiful pictures and rock-bottom prices are used to get you to hand over your financial details.

4)      Holiday Spam/Phishing—Soon, many of these spam e-mails will take on holiday themes. Cheap Rolex watches and pharmaceuticals may be advertised as the ‘perfect gift’ for that special someone.

5)    Hot holiday gift scamsThe kind of excitement and buzz surrounding Apple’s new iPhone 5 or iPad Mini is just what cyber crooks dream off when they plot their scams. They will mention must-have holiday gifts in dangerous links, phony contests (example: ‘Free iPad’) and phishing e-mails as a way to grab computer users’ attention to get personal information or click on a dangerous link that could download malware onto your machine.

6)      Skype Message Scare—People around the world will use Skype to connect with loved ones this holiday season, but they should be aware of a new Skype message scam that attempts to infect their machine, and even hold their files for ransom.

7)      Bogus gift cards—Cyber-criminals can't help but want to get in on the action by offering bogus gift cards online. Be wary of buying gift cards from third parties! Just imagine how embarrassing it would be to find out that the gift card you gave your mother-in-law was fraudulent!

8)      Holiday SMiShing—‘SMiSishing’ is phishing via text message. Just like with e-mail phishing, the scammer tries to lure you into revealing information or performing an action you normally wouldn’t do by pretending to be a legitimate organization. 

9)      Phony E-tailers– Phony e-commerce sites, that appear real, try to lure you into typing in your credit card number and other personal details, often by promoting great deals. But, after obtaining your money and information, you never receive the merchandise, and your personal information is put at risk.

10)   Fake charities—This is one of the biggest scams of every holiday season. As we open up our hearts and wallets, the bad guys hope to get in on the giving by sending spam emails advertising fake charities.

11)   Dangerous e-cards—E-Cards are a popular way to send a quick ‘thank you’ or holiday greeting but some are malicious and may contain spyware or viruses that download onto your computer once you click on the link to view the greeting.

       12)   Phony classifieds—Online classified sites may be a great place to look for holiday gifts and part-time jobs, but beware of phony offers that ask for too much personal information or ask you to wire funds via Western Union, since these are most likely scams.

One of the best ways for consumers to protect themselves is to learn about the criminals’ tricks to avoid any untoward incidents. The intention here is not to haunt the consumers by the scams of holidays but to make them aware that they can’t afford to leave the door open to cyber-criminals during the busy holiday season.

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