As Christmas shoppers are expected to be spending millions online throughout the festive season, it’s a time to be especially careful as cyber criminals raise their game to prey on those who are vulnerable and people who may usually be more unsuspecting Christmas shoppers.

You might want keep an eye out (and for your friends and family) for the following cyber scams:

Phone Scams

Scammers often call claiming from your bank or other national well known businesses. Always ask for their and if in doubt hang up. You can always look up their official phone number and call back if need be. Never give out any personal details or passwords to someone who makes an unsolicited call to you.

Public Wi-Fi Scams

If you’re out and about and connect your device to a public Wi-Fi network, make sure your files and data can’t be shared with anyone else on the network and try to stick to websites that support the HTTPS protocol.

Fake Updates

While you might be tempted to share fun social media articles, images and videos be aware of what you’re sharing as sometimes they’re infected with malware. If so it will prompt you to update to the latest version of flash player, for example, to watch said video but instead of an update, you’ll receive a malware infection that then sends the same message to your social media contacts asking them to do the same, spreading the virus.

Email Banking Scams

Cyber criminals prey on this being an expensive time of year for many and often email posing as your bank. Typically these emails will ask you to verify personal information but always remember that your bank will never contact you asking for personal information, so always call your bank if you’re concerned.

Phishing Scams

Falling for a phishing scam is an easy mistake to make. Over this period companies send millions of emails in a last-ditch attempt to plug their products before Christmas, and phishing scammers will send seemingly genuine emails that lead to infect your device when clicked. Only open emails from reputable source, never click on a link that doesn’t seem legitimate and if an email describes an offer that seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Unsecure Websites

A number of websites that you input personal data or credit card details into do not offer a secure connection. This may not be intentional, but it is always best to avoid inputting any valuable personal data into a website that isn’t secure. Keep an eye out for the padlock symbol or change of colour in your address bar. If you can’t spot either of these things, it’s probably best to do your Christmas shopping elsewhere.

News Scams

Sadly, cyber criminals will often use major world news to scam unsuspecting, charitable people out of money during the season of goodwill. Criminals create scam emails and fake websites asking for donations, which unfortunately will never reach the worthy cause. While such emails and websites may appear genuine, always double check that any donations you make go to registered charities or aid agencies.

Fake Virus Checkers

Installing a robust anti-virus system is simply good practice. By making sure your device is well prepared to defend cyber-attacks, you can avoid succumbing to pop-up messages telling you to ‘click here for a free virus check’.

 

Cyber criminals know all too well that Christmas is the busiest time of year for internet retailers and that more people than ever will be using their devices to make purchases and surf the web. As cyber security becomes a growing issue, not only in the UK but all over the world, it’s critical that you stay safe and always remember to think before you click.

You can report fraud and cyber crime via Action Fraud

If you live in a Torus community, look out for news of digital sessions in your area in the new year. Support includes building IT skills and online confidence, to help you stay connected in a safe way.

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