’Tis the season to be scammed—Our guide to a fraud-free festive season

Don’t have a cyber nightmare before Christmas, read our guide to some of the most popular festive scams to stay safe this holiday season

For many, the holiday season is the most magical time of the year, but unfortunately it can also be high season for cyber criminals to strike. For this festive season, we’ve compiled a guide to some popular scams that target people around this time of year. Watch out for them to ensure your holidays are merry, bright, and fraud-free.

  1. Fraudulent e-cards
    E-cards are an increasingly popular way of sending Christmas and other greeting cards, and while they can be quick and easy to send, they are also easy for scammers to impersonate and send out en masse. If you do receive an e-card, make sure not to click on any links, and pay attention to the spelling of the email address, as scammers may attempt to impersonate a friend or colleague. 

  2. Charity scams
    ’Tis the season of giving and the season of scamming. While many legitimate organizations run appeals for worthy causes, the increase in charitable outreach can make it harder to spot a fake organization. If you’re being asked for a donation from a charity, make sure it has a legitimate .org website, and you can verify exactly where your money is going. Giving is a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t hurt to do a little due diligence before handing over your hard-earned cash.

  3. Online shopping
    These days, most of us do some, if not all, of our holiday shopping online. While the peace and quiet of our own homes is often preferable to the crowds of shoppers, there are still precautions to keep in mind. With the increase in spending around the festive season and the all-too-common race for last-minute gifts, it can be easy to fall victim to an online shopping scam. Fake websites and malicious ads target users with deals and specials for products, especially in relation to the latest technology releases or travel specials. Make sure you’re shopping on trusted retailers’ websites, and if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is!

  4. Sketchy shipping links
    Similar to online shopping scams, fraudsters often take advantage of the high numbers of people waiting on parcels and presents to arrive over the holiday period by impersonating well-known shipping services and sending fake parcel tracking links. Once clicked on, the links enable the download of malware, or direct users to websites aiming to steal their credentials. To avoid falling for a shipping scam, keep on top of what websites you’ve ordered from and the shipping service used, and if an email looks suspicious, you can always track your package from the website itself.

  5. Fake Santa apps 
    There are a variety of apps that allow your children to receive a personalized call or message from Santa. These apps are a fantastic way to make Christmas come alive for your little ones, but as with other apps, can also be impersonated by scammers to steal personal credentials. When downloading apps, make sure you are only using the official Apple or Google Play Store. Try ESET Smart Security Premium to ensure your Android smartphone and other devices are protected against all possible threats.