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12 Scams of Christmas

Jordan Crawford | 12/12/2013, 9:54 a.m.

‘Tis the season to be jolly— and equipped with a heightened sense of discernment. The Christmas season is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but in order to keep it that way, people need to avoid suspicious situations and sneaky criminals.

Criminals tend to strike more during the holiday season because they know many people are out Christmas shopping. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says people should be alert to suspicious situations because scam artists are looking to take advantage of them this holiday season.

According to Becky Maier, BBB public relations director, says that the most popular scams are identity theft at the mall, bogus charitable pleas, and privacy invasion online.

“While you’re struggling at the mall with bags of presents, identity thieves see an opportunity to steal your wallet and debit or credit card numbers,” Maier says. “Cover the keypad when entering your pin number while purchasing items or getting money from the ATM.”

Regarding a fraudulent request for monetary generosity, Maier recommends that donors research a charity with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance before deciding to donate to determine if the charity meets the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.

This year, according to McAfee, holiday shopping sales are expected to soar to an estimated $602 billion. E-commerce sales are predicted to rise 15 percent compared to last year’s digital sales to more than $60 billion, with m-commerce comprising 16 percent of this number. Consumers should ensure that they are taking all precautions to protect the data saved on their devices. This is especially true for the 51 percent of U.S. adults that bank online and 32 percent that use mobile banking.

In November, McAfee released its annual “12 Scams of Christmas” list detailing the 12 most popular holiday scams to be on the lookout for this year. As people shop for Christmas gifts online they should lookout for:

1-Not-So-Merry Mobile Apps- official-looking software for holiday shopping, including those that feature celebrity or company endorsements, could be malicious, designed to steal or send out your personal data. Criminals can redirect incoming calls and messages, offering them the chance to skip two-step authentication systems where the second step involves sending a code to a mobile device;

2-Holiday Mobile SMS Scams- FakeInstaller tricks Android users into thinking it is a legitimate installer for an application and then quickly takes advantage of the unrestricted access to smartphones, sending SMS messages to premium rate numbers without the user’s consent;

3-Hot Holiday Gift Scams- Advertisements that offer deals on must-have items, such as PS4 or Xbox One, might be too good to be true. Clever crooks will post dangerous links, phony contests on social media sites, and send phishing emails to entice viewers to reveal personal information or download malware onto their devices;

4-Seasonal Travel Scams- Phony travel deal links and notifications are common, as are hackers waiting to steal your identity upon arrival. When logging into an infected PC with an email username and password, scammers can install keylogging spyware, keycatching hardware, and more. A hotel’s Wi-Fi may claim that you need to install software before using it and instead infect your computer with malware if you “agree;”