#romancescams | How to avoid all online shopping Christmas scams

Christmas time is that time of the year when we give presents to friends and family members and often we will send Christmas e-cards to people we appreciate.

And of course, we too receive Christmas e-cards, which is a good thing, unless we are dealing with an online scam.

In these unfortunate cases, the Christmas e-cards we receive could contain hidden malicious software or a link to a hacker-controlled website.

For this reason, we need to pay attention to the animations, pictures, videos or links in the e-card that could download malware or send us to a site that contains malicious content.

Therefore, in the end, it is the malicious content that should worry us because it may be used to steal sensitive data from our computers or valuable information.

To stay safe from special holidays’ compromised e-cards, follow these general guidelines:

Pay attention to spam campaigns that try to push these phishing attempts to you.

If you receive a suspicious e-mail, do not open it, do not click any link or download any attachment.

Make sure you have not only antivirus protection, but also a good anti-spyware program.

Even if you receive such an e-mail from a friend, it doesn’t mean that he or she actually sent that e-mail.

According to the Kount Merchant Holiday Retail Guide, Cyber Monday 2017 saw the biggest increase in fraud attacks, at 134%.

EXPERT ADVICE # 1:  NOT SURE IF THE ECARD YOU RECEIVED IS A SCAM? ONE SIMPLE THING YOU CAN DO BEFORE OPENING AN ECARD IS TO CONTACT THE SENDER AND ASK THEM IF THEY REALLY SENT YOU THE CARD.

If they did indeed send the eCard, you’ll get peace of mind before opening it and the opportunity to thank them properly!

2. How to be safe from catfishing and other romance scams
This is an old one and we have all seen it in a form or another.

In 2016 there was a 20% increase in this type of spam, with an estimated $230 million in losses.

However, FBI says that only about 15% of romances scams are reported, so the true number can be much higher.

A classic romance scam usually starts with a conversation on a social media account or by exchanging a few e-mails.

Since we are dealing with an old scam, this one involves a lot of experience from the scammers and a little knowledge of human psychology.

All of us want company and affection, especially in winter time, and all of us spend even more time connected to the Internet.

Online crooks use fake profiles on apparently legitimate sites in the famous practice called catfishing, run Tinder, Viber or Kik bots in phishing attempts to obtain your data and even inject malware into your computer or smartphone.

To avoid a romantic disappointment and protect yourself:
Do not trust anyone you meet online or someone who asks for money or your credit card information.

Beware of sharing your most intimate information on social media or dating sites.

Even if you receive similar information from the other person, you cannot verify the truth of this info.

If targeted by spammers, warn others of their methods

EXPERT ADVICE #2: GETTING THE INFORMATION OUT THERE IS THE NUMBER ONE WAY TO DISRUPT SPAMMERS. PUT ALL THAT STUFF OUT THERE SO OTHER PEOPLE CAN BE WARNED.

6. How to stay clear of games giveaways and lotteries scams
There ain’t such a thing as a free lunch. This old adage applies to both giveaways and lotteries scams.  

There is no Microsoft Email Lottery, no Uber Online Lottery with free rides and no Linkedin Online Lottery, just to name a few common ones.

The lottery scam will never truly go away because people will always hope to win something.

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