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Don't fall victim to cyber crime this holiday season

technologyEdward KiledjianComment
Image by  Tex Texin  used under Creative Commons License

Image by Tex Texin used under Creative Commons License

The holidays are almost here and present a wonderful excuse to kick back and enjoy some great moments with family & friends. Too bad criminals never take time off and love the holiday period. Expect an increase in cyber-attacks against regular online netizens trying to shop for that perfect gift. 

Expect cyber criminals to use their full arsenal of tools in an attempt to trick you into divulging your personal information (address, Date of birth, Social security number, banking, etc). Their favorite trick is the always popular (and very effective) phishing emails and phishing links on social media sites. They prepare convincingly well designed emails using brand names, super special prices, or incredible sounding promos to lure online shoppers into their dark net. 

If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you want to conduct any online transactions (banking, shopping, etc), go directly to the website in question and don't click through from an email. 

Before handing over any personal information, make sure the site is using an encrypted SSL connection (little lock icon in the URL bar) and double click on it to ensure the provided certification information is correct. 

Another trick scammers love to pull this time of the year is the old bat and switch. They advertise a name brand product (e.g. Bose QuietComfort 15) at an incredible must act now kind of price. When you receive the item it is either a Chinese fake knock-off masquerading as the product or is a cheap off name brand (Abidas instead of Adidas, Bosse instead of Bose, Beat instead of Beats, etc). Remember to only shop at name brand authorized online retailers (Amazon, Walmart, Target, J&R, B&H, etc).

I have seen dozens of customers get burned after buying gift cards from auction sites. You buy what you think is a valid gift card only to realize (when you try to use it) that the card is not activated or the credit has been completely used already.

Similar to the gift cards, be extremely careful when buying tickets to sporting events, concerts or shows. It is common for fraudsters to buy 1 pair and make (sell) multiple copies of it or in the worst case scenario, sell completely fake tickets. 

Make sure all online transactions are paid for by credit card. These cards will give you some level of fraud protection. Be careful. You can complain to authorities if you are the victim of fraud but if you paid via paypal, western union, moneybooker, money mover, bitcount, postal money order, you will likely never see your money again.