Scammers may be ever present online, but when the holidays roll around, they go into high gear.
That’s because “all of the stars align” for bad actors, said Mark Ostrowski of Check Point Software, an online security company. The shopping rush, big sales and charity appeals create a slew of opportunities for scammers to entice people to click on malware boobytraps, reveal sensitive personal information and cough up cash in response to deceptive emails and texts.
You don’t have to be a Grinch to protect yourself against these fraudsters, but you do have to treat the unsolicited emails and texts you receive skeptically — something you should be doing year-round, frankly. While you’re at it, keep in mind what scammers like to do during the holidays, and how your actions online will inevitably expose you to more risk.
Here are some tips from Ostrowski, Norton researcher Kevin Roundy, and other experts about the holiday scams to be on the lookout for and the sorts of practices that can keep you safe.
In the days before Amazon, holiday shopping meant shouldering your way through the crowds at the mall or local shopping district. And for the hard-core bargain-seekers among us, it meant spending hours in line before dawn, hoping for a chance at an insanely low-priced TV or game console.
Some of that still happens — witness the frenzy two years ago by people trying to land a Sony Playstation 5 — but a good chunk of the in-person holiday shopping has given way to online…