01 Dec 2014

Cybercriminals love the Christmas act of receiving


3 min

Warning bells should ring louder than jingle bells

The holiday season is a perfect time for cybercriminals and scam artists to ramp up their heinous activities. This festive season, be sure to keep your guard up and be aware of the types of scams targeting unsuspecting, trusting and merry people.

Everybody loves receiving parcels especially at Christmas time; however watch out for fake delivery scams arriving in both your email inbox and letterbox. Fraudsters take advantage of the busy Christmas period by claiming to have attempted delivery of a parcel and usually will offer to re-deliver the parcel for a small fee. Of course once they have your money, no parcel will arrive.

As the year draws to a close, it may be hard to resist the idea of a relaxing luxury holiday at a bargain price. These holiday scams have been running for the past couple of months. I personally received a phone call telling me that as a valued Virgin Airlines customer I had been selected for this amazing deal. I was only required to do two things:

1. Provide feedback on my most recent flight experience; and

2. Pay $999 via credit card

In return I would receive a holiday package which included 14 days accommodation in the USA and a 5-day Florida cruise—all meals included. The person on the other end of the phone line was quite confused when I resolutely declined the offer.

With all the additional expenses over the holiday period it may be tempting to fall for a scam that offers you an unexpected windfall. One of the more recent scams involves either a phone call or an email offering consumers and small businesses carbon tax refunds, following the carbon tax repeal. Claiming to be from either a government department/energy company they advise that you are entitled to a refund (due to the changes in legislation) and all you need to do is provide your preferred bank account details for payment. At this point they may also tell you that payment will take 6-8 weeks and of course if you need the money sooner you can pay a small fee (usually $30 to $50) and your payment will be processed within 5 working days.

If you don’t get offered a refund the next best thing may be something for free. Have you ever clicked on a link or ‘liked’ a Facebook page because you were promised a $100 voucher from Bunnings or perhaps even a free iPhone? Usually these scams are commonly referred to as “Bait and Switch” which entice people to like a page in order to receive a free gift (i.e. the bait). The scam then goes into “Switch” mode where you are directed to a page where you either complete a survey or click ‘like’ and the fraudster is being paid per click for traffic to that site. At best you will be disappointed when the free gift never appears and at worst you will have given the fraudster personal information about yourself in order to receive the free gift. Always remember the old saying there is ‘no such thing as a free lunch’ or to create a new saying ‘a free iPhone’.

At the risk of being a Grinch, it is a timely reminder—if something seems too good to be true then it usually is!

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