Beware of Holiday Identidy Theft Scams and Smartphone Viruses
With the holiday spending season already upon us and the season of returns, exchanges and using gift cards on the way, a lot of money is going to change hands. Shopping online has some added convenience and you might find some extra special deals on your smartphone, but you should be aware of some of the ways scammers are trying to take your money and your identity.
A story from MSN says that mobile malware is expected to be a big culprit this year.
A McAfee report earlier this year found that incidents of mobile malware rose 62% in 2010. And that’s particularly scary given how much mobile phones will be integrated into the shopping experience this year, with more than half of smartphone owners saying they plan to use their phone to help them shop this holiday season.
Be sure to use some common sense and a little caution when using your smartphone to make purchases or even get coupons from random apps and websites.
You may even want to think about downloading an anti-virus app for your phone. (TechShout recommends these security apps: BitDefender, AVG AntiVirus Free, NetQin Mobile Security & Antivirus, Zoner AntiVirus Free, Lookout Mobile Security, and Dr. Web AntiVirus Light.)
Yes, Android phones have more potential viruses but there are plenty out there targeting iPhones too.
What else should you be extra aware of this spending season?
- Mobile malware — Mainly affecting Android devices, this may include malicious QR codes.
- Malicious mobile applications — While many shoppers will download apps to help them find holiday deals, some aren’t what they seem and could transmit your data.
- Phony Facebook promotions and contests — McAfee warns that scammers have planted phony promotions and contests on Facebook that could swipe your personal information when you fill out the “entry form.”
- Scareware — If all this talk of malware is putting the fear of God in you, choose your antivirus software carefully, lest you wind up downloading and paying for phony software.
- Holiday screen savers — Find a different way to decorate your computer, as there are instances of Christmas-themed screen savers that are actually malware. And beware of fake e-cards as well.
- Mac malware — Yes, even Macs can get malware, with McAfee finding 5,000 pieces of Mac-targeting malware as of late 2010.
- Holiday phishing scams — Phony letters from UPS or your bank could take advantage of holiday commerce to get you to give up personal data.
- Online coupon scams — If you plan to use coupons to save this holiday season, choose carefully and deal only with reputable sites.
- Mystery shopper scams — Being a mystery shopper may sound like a fun job, but if you get a text offering you one of these gigs, be warned that it’s probably a scammer who will ask for your personal information in exchange for “hiring” you.
- Hotel “wrong transaction” malware emails — McAfee cites one scam in which the victim gets an email ostensibly from a hotel and is asked to fill out a phony refund form to correct an alleged “wrong transaction.”
- “It” gift scams — Whatever the hot holiday item turns out to be, expect scam websites to offer it at a discount — in exchange for your data, of course.
- “I’m away from home” scammers — If you’re planning on traveling for the holidays, you might want to reconsider telling everyone about it on social networks, lest a burglar take notice and rob your home while you’re away.
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