Avoiding Christmas Phishing Scams
A Christmas fishing trip with the family can be lots of fun, but other Christmas activities are not so great. Unlike its outdoor counterpart, this type of phishing is meant to lure you and your money, and the bait could be sitting in your inbox right now.
If you take the bait on a Christmas phishing scam, you could find yourself with an empty bank account – and an equally empty Christmas tree. These types of scams are everywhere this time of year, and the attacks are growing more sophisticated with every passing year.
More than ever before, Christmas shoppers need to be wary, and taking a proactive approach to avoiding phishing scams is a good place to start. Educating yourself is the best way to protect yourself – and your money. Here are some warning signs to watch out for this festive season – and every other time of year.
An Urgent Appeal
Lots of things are vying for attention during Christmas, from charity fundraising appeals to sale notices. In order to break through the clutter and get read, the perpetrators of phishing attacks often ramp up the urgency.
Be very suspicious of emails and notices with overly urgent headlines – things like warnings about security breaches or appeals to take immediate action. Scam artists hope to play on your emotions and get you to take action before you have chance to think. So sit back, settle down and think carefully before you reply.
An Invoice For An Order You Did Not Place
If you receive an invoice or email notification for an order you did not place, it could be a sign of a phishing attack. The creators of these accounts often send out these bogus messages in an attempt to lure unwary shoppers, so be very cautious.
If you suspect unauthorised use on your account or think a purchase has been made in your name, contact the merchant directly – never click a link in an unsolicited email. If someone has used your account without permission, you should be able to stop it. Just as importantly, you will be giving the merchant a heads up, so they can warn their other customers.
Mismatched URLs And Other Small Errors
The creators of phishing attacks have gotten a lot better at looking legitimate. For the most part, shoppers can no longer rely on obvious things like rampant misspellings and blatant issues with punctuation and grammar. Even the embedded images and websites may look quite legitimate.
At the same time, there are often smaller issues still present, and being alert for them could safeguard your wallet and save you a lot of grief. Before you respond to any email or Christmas offer, take the time to read the entire message and check for these small but significant issues.
Does the URL of the merchant website point to a company you are familiar with, or does the name look a bit off? Is the email message personalised, or is it generic? These small issues could be warning signs of a holiday phishing attack.
Nobody wants to go phishing during the Christmas season, but the scam artists are out in earnest this time of year. If you want to enjoy an abundant and financially secure Christmas, you need to know the tactics the bad guys are using now, starting with the warning signs listed above.