The 12 ‘scams’ of Christmas

/ 10:12 AM December 25, 2013

People buy souvenirs outside a church on Christmas eve in Bangalore, India, Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013. AP

SAN FRANCISCO – It’s a time of peace on Earth and goodwill to all men. But some unscrupulous types use the Christmas period to scam us. There is no worse time to fall victim to one of these swindles. Don’t get duped by the hoaxers, the tricksters and the fraudsters this Christmas.

Here are the Twelve Scams of Christmas that you should avoid:



1. The Fake E-Greeting


Receiving e-greeting Christmas cards is fast becoming socially acceptable. These can, however, contain all sorts of Trojans, malware and spyware which will get into your computer and steal personal information. To avoid infections, be sure that the card is from someone you know before you open it and if suspicious don’t click on any links. For a fail-proof option, try Treat.com for your digital card delights.


2. Mobile Apps

Lots of festive apps are launched around now, with an array of official-looking ones that are actually scams, designed to steal personal data from your phone. Only download from the official app stores and look carefully at the company information.


3. Holiday Gifts

What could be worse than ordering that special gift online at a bargain price only to find that it’s never delivered and the website mysteriously vanishes without a trace? Double check email, contact and website URLs to ensure they are real. If something appears too good to be true, it probably is.



4. Travel

Thinking of getting away this year and have seen a great bargain for a holiday? Be aware that a lot of “companies” set up at this time to dupe innocent holidaymakers into parting with a deposit, only to disappear. Be careful who you book through and ensure you are ATOL and ABTA protected if possible.


5. Text Scams

There are codes around that can look like an app download when in fact they are uploading your data at their end. This can happen if unscrupulous people get hold of your mobile number, so be very careful where you give it out.


6. Online Games

All that lovely time off from work can leave you or the kids twiddling their thumbs. Downloading a game or playing through social media, however, can lead to personal information being stolen. Once again, be aware of what you are opening yourself up to.


7. Shipping Notifications

A lot of us use online retailers for our Christmas shopping these days. If you see a delivery notice you’re bound to open it to. These are often laden with malware and spyware and all sorts of nasty infections. Best to check the email from which it’s been sent.


8. SMiShing

Despite its cute name, SMiShing is a clever scam to get you to reveal personal banking information with the threat of account closure. The more sophisticated SMiShers will even include a few of your real credit card numbers to sound legitimate. Don’t give out personal information over the phone or email.


9. Fake Online Shops

Some online shops will be selling counterfeit goods, others will be trading on well-known and luxury brand names. If you see suspiciously ludicrous prices, you can be sure there’s something not right. Only buy from official websites.

10. Love is in the Air

This time of year can be lonely for some people, so beware dating sites with women asking for travel money in order to get to a date. Use reputable dating sites, don’t give out personal bank information and don’t click on links from someone you don’t know.


11. Charitable Donations

It’s not unusual to receive requests from charities for a donation or gift. These scams are usually very well thought through, with convincing email addresses and logos. If in doubt, donate through a trusted telephone line or through the official website (not links from emails).


12. Gift Cards

Deals for branded gift cards are abundant on social media at the moment, some are fakes, so be sure to buy through a reputable retailer instead of the first offer you see online.

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TAGS: apps, Christmas, Crimes, Fraud, greetings, Holidays, Scams, shopping
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