Post holiday alert: dodging online scams

The time after the holidays can often lead to a noticeable shift in mood, as the excitement of festive seasons slowly fades away, to leave room to the regular rhythm of daily life. This transition period, while a bit melancholic for some, is an important time to stay alert, especially online. It’s during these moments that online scammers tend to surface, preying on those who might be seeking to recapture the holiday spirit through online deals.

These scams can look like too-good-to-be-true post-holiday sales or emotional appeals from fake charities. However, being aware of this potential risk can empower individuals to navigate the internet more cautiously, ensuring that their post-holiday period is not only safe but also a time for positive new beginnings.

Common types of online scams

There are several types of online scams that tend to be more common during this period. The first type is the phishing scam, which involves sending emails or messages that appear to be from legitimate companies but that are actually designed to trick you into providing sensitive information such as passwords or credit card numbers.

Another common type of online scam is the fake website scam. These are websites that mimic real online stores, with the aim of tricking shoppers into entering their credit card information. The scammers then use this information to commit fraud. These websites often appear very professional and may even have URLs that closely resemble those of the legitimate stores they’re imitating.

Malware scams are also prevalent not only during the holidays season, but even after it. These involve malicious software being installed on your computer without your knowledge. The malware may then record your keystrokes, steal your personal information, or even lock your computer and demand a ransom.

Online shopping scams to be aware of

We have seen different scams all these years, but one thing that is interesting is the evolution that these scams have undergone. Fake discounts and deals are one of the most prevalent scams we have seen rise throughout these years. Scammers lure victims with the promise of huge discounts on popular items, only to steal their credit card information or fail to deliver the promised goods. 

Pop-up scams are another common threat. These scams involve pop-up ads that appear on your screen while you’re browsing. They often promise incredible deals or claim that you’ve won a prize, but their real purpose is to trick you into clicking on them, which can lead to malware being installed on your computer.  Another notable scam that has surged online is the fake charities. Scammers try to manipulate people online into donating into these fake websites, by trying to exploit their spirit of generosity. According to a report by the Federal Trade Commission from last year, around 25% of reported charity fraud cases involved sham organizations, highlighting the importance of vigilant donation practices.

Photo by on Unsplash
Photo by on Unsplash

Also quite interestingly, fake shipping notification scams tends to rise as well after the holiday rush. With a higher volume of numerous shipping details from retailers and carriers circulating after the holiday rush, scammers seize the opportunity to blend in, sending fake notifications to consumers who are still waiting on their orders.

Finally, social media scams are becoming increasingly common, almost at any time of the year. These scams often involve fake giveaways or contests designed to trick you into sharing your personal information. They may also create fake profiles or websites to impersonate popular brands or celebrities, often promising exclusive deals or gifts in exchange for likes, shares, or personal information.

Tips for safe online shopping after the holidays

To protect yourself from the aftermath of the holiday season, it’s important to follow some basic safety tips. Firstly, always be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Secondly, always verify the authenticity of the websites you visit. Check the URL and look for signs of legitimacy, such as secure payment options and a valid SSL certificate. Thirdly, be careful about what information you share online. Avoid providing unnecessary personal information and never share your password or credit card information via email or social media. And if you ever get scammed, it is best you report it right away.

Finally, keep your devices and software updated. Regular updates often contain security patches that fix vulnerabilities, which can help protect you from malware and other online threats. By following these simple safety tips, you can keep your data and wallet safe from hackers, especially after the holiday season when your finances might already be stretched thin.

Kristi Shehu is a Cyber Security Engineer (Application Security) and Cyber Journalist based in Albania. She lives and breathes technology, specializing in crafting content on cyber news and the latest security trends, all through the eyes of a cyber professional. Kristi is passionate about sharing her thoughts and opinions on the exciting world of cyber security, from breakthrough emerging technologies to dynamic startups across the globe.