’Tis the season to be wary! The holiday season is upon us, and while it may be filled with joy and festivities, it’s also a time when Holiday IT scammers are out in full force. Cybercriminals seize the opportunity to carry out their devious schemes as businesses ramp up spending and let down their guard. To protect your business from falling victim to these holiday scams, we’ve compiled a list of four common traps you must watch out for. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and keep your business safe during this festive time.
The Dangers Lurking Behind Holiday Cheer
The holiday season brings with it a sense of joy and excitement. Businesses often experience increased sales as customers flock to take advantage of holiday deals and discounts. But amidst all the festivities, this season has a darker side: cybercriminals eager to take advantage of the holiday rush. Businesses must stay vigilant and informed about the various holiday IT scams that lurk beneath the surface. In this article, we’ll explore four common holiday IT scams and provide actionable tips on how you can protect your business from falling prey.
1. Enter to Lose: Fake Surveys, Giveaways, and Contests – Oh My!
’Tis the season of giving, but unfortunately, scammers know this too well. Fake surveys, giveaways, and contests abound during the holidays, tempting unsuspecting individuals with promises of extravagant prizes or discounts. They claim users have been awarded a significant prize for completing a simple survey or calling a number.
They’re so common, the federal government has publicly warned consumers. According to the Federal Trade Commision:
“Here’s how they work: You get a call, letter, email, or text saying that you won! Maybe it’s a vacation or cruise, a lottery or a sweepstakes. The person calling about your prize is so excited. They can’t wait for you to get your winnings. But here’s what happens next. They say there are fees, taxes, or customs duties to pay. Then they ask for your credit card number or bank account information. Or they ask you to pay with cash, gift cards, wire transfers, or cryptocurrency. If you pay a scammer or share information, you lose. There is no prize. Instead, you get more requests for money, and more false promises that you won big.”
Here’s what you need to do to stay safe:
Be Skeptical of Too-Good-to-Be-True Offers
When it comes to online offers, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers often use enticing offers as bait to collect personal information or gain unauthorized access to your systems. Remember, legitimate companies rarely ask for sensitive information through surveys. If something seems suspicious, trust your gut and proceed with caution.
Verify the Legitimacy of Online Promotions
Before participating in an online giveaway or contest, always verify the legitimacy of the promotion. Check the official website or social media channels of the company hosting the event. Look for red flags such as grammatical errors, misspelled words, or email addresses that don’t match the company’s domain name. When in doubt, reach out to the company directly to confirm the authenticity of the promotion.
2. Phishing Holiday IT Scams: Don’t Take the Bait!
Phishing holiday IT scams have become increasingly sophisticated over the years, and the holiday season provides scammers with ample opportunities to exploit businesses. Protect yourself and your business by staying one step ahead of these cybercriminals:
Beware of CEO Fraud
CEO fraud is a phishing scam where scammers impersonate high-level executives to trick employees into divulging sensitive information or making fraudulent transactions. During the holiday season, when businesses are focused on meeting year-end targets and tying up loose ends, scammers often take advantage of the busy atmosphere. Train your employees to be cautious and implement strong internal controls to prevent falling victim to CEO fraud.
Spotting Suspicious Emails and Messages
Phishing emails and messages can look incredibly convincing, making it challenging to differentiate between legitimate communication and a scam. However, there are telltale signs that can help you identify potential threats. Look out for generic greetings, misspelled words, grammatical errors, urgent requests for personal or financial information, or email addresses that seem unusual or suspicious. When in doubt, contact the sender through a trusted channel to confirm the message’s authenticity.
3. A Deal Too Good to Be True? Bogus Gift Cards, Coupons, and Discounts
Gift cards, coupons, and discounts are popular during the holiday season as customers seek ways to save money. Unfortunately, cybercriminals have found ways to exploit these shopping trends. Bad guys can acquire a person’s internet history and create malicious traps offering significant discounts on whatever item they were looking into. If you see a deal that looks too good to be true, it probably is.
You’ll see this the most in your Facebook feed with fake clearance sales offering products at a severely discounted rate. Malwaretips.com explains, “If you’ve been scrolling Facebook lately, you may have seen tempting ads proclaiming eye-popping deals like “Clearance Sale: All Items 90% Off!” At first glance, the prospect of getting luxury goods and brand-name items for a tiny fraction of retail pricing seems irresistible. But behind the facade lies an elaborate scam designed to trick social media users out of their hard-earned money.”
Here’s how you can protect your business from bogus offers:
Research Retailers Before Making Purchases
If you come across a deal that seems too good to pass up, take a moment to research the retailer offering the discount. Check customer reviews, verify their online presence, and ensure they have a secure payment gateway before proceeding. Trustworthy retailers will have established reputations and robust security measures to protect their customers’ information.
Trust Your Gut
As the saying goes, trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right about a gift card offer, coupon, or discount, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Be wary of unsolicited offers sent via email, social media, or text message. Always double-check the source, and don’t hesitate to contact customer support if you have any doubts about the legitimacy of an offer.
4. Falling for Fake News Stories? Not on Our Watch!
The internet is rife with fake news stories that can lead unsuspecting individuals down a rabbit hole of malware-infected links or holiday IT scams. Stay one step ahead of these online traps:
Question Everything You Read Online
During the holiday season, scammers take advantage of people’s curiosity by creating sensationalized news stories that entice users to click on infectious links. Train yourself and your employees to question everything they come across online. Verify the authenticity of a story through trusted sources before sharing it or clicking on any links contained within it.
Double-Check URLs and Sources
Scammers often create convincing websites that mirror legitimate ones. Before providing personal information or purchasing online, check the URL to ensure it matches the official website of the company you intend to interact with. Look for secure connections (https://) and be cautious when inputting sensitive data. Always stick to reputable sources for news and updates to avoid falling into the trap of fake news stories.
Safeguard Your Business Against Holiday IT Scams
Safeguarding your business against holiday IT scams requires proactive measures and constant vigilance. Take the necessary steps to educate yourself and your employees about the risks associated with holiday IT scams. Stay current with the latest cybersecurity practices and ensure that your systems are equipped with robust security measures. TCS CyberSheild can help ensure you’re always protected by 24×7 monitoring for new vulnerabilities to your network.
Remember, protecting your business from holiday IT scams is an ongoing process. By remaining informed, staying vigilant, and implementing strong security practices, you can enjoy the holiday season with peace of mind, knowing that your business is safe and secure.Schedule your free consultation today, and let us help you keep your technology working consistently so your employees stay productive.