Scams to Watch Out for During the Holidays: What You Need to Know to Protect Your Business
The holiday season is often a joyous time of year as it allows us to spend time with those we love most. Unfortunately, this is also the time of year in which scammers are most active as they devise new ways to cheat and steal, often using complex phishing campaigns through which they trick people into giving them their personal information. Every year, unsuspecting businesses fall prey to these scammers, which can not only be costly, but it can also cause irreparable damage to a small business’s reputation if customer data is breached. This makes it critical that you do everything you can to protect your business from these scammers. To help keep your business secure, here is a look at the most common scams you should look out for this holiday season.
While scammers use phishing emails year-round to try to access business’s sensitive information, they ramp up their attacks during the holidays using much more deceptive tactics. This makes it critical that you are more cautious than ever when opening emails, particularly on your work computer. The fact is that scammers are getting more creative and send emails that will look as if they are coming from a retailer you have used or a shipping service such as UPS. However, these emails will try to gain access to your personal information through malicious links in the email.
During the holidays, it is then more important than ever that you are careful about what emails you open. Only open emails from known senders, and avoid clicking links in emails. Even if you receive an email that claims to be a shipping update from a recent order, it is safest to log onto the merchant’s website directly for any updates than run the risk of following a malicious link.
One of the greatest things about the holidays is that it makes people reflect on how they can give back to others, and many companies look for ways in which they can make charitable donations and help out their local communities during the holiday season. Unfortunately, scammers are all too aware of this, and they try to capitalize on this goodwill by asking people to make contributions to charities that don’t even exist. Some scammers may even try to pose as a legitimate charity to gain access to your information.
Thusly, while it is great to feel the holiday spirit and want to help out those less fortunate, make sure that you are cautious if you plan on doing any charitable giving this holiday season. You should be wary of any charities that try to contact you and get you to give out your personal information over the phone or by email. Your best bet is to research reputable charities and to reach out to them directly to find out the best way to make a donation.
Another common scam that takes place during the holiday season is the proliferation of bogus websites. With online shopping becoming more popular each year, and many holiday shoppers turning to the internet to try to find the best deal, scammers will set up free e-commerce websites to lure in customers. These websites will advertise popular items at an extremely low price, however, once they have customers’ money, these websites often disappear without delivering the product. Even worse, they may use any card information provided to empty your bank account.
If you have been waiting for holiday sales to make a big purchase for your company, such as a new printer or new computers, make sure that you are careful about what website you use if you plan to shop online. If you see a price that seems too good to be true, it probably is; particularly if you have not heard of the website where the product is being offered. In order to keep your information secure, it is best to make purchases from well-known online retailers. You can also help protect yourself by making online purchases using a credit card rather than a debit card, as it is usually easier to get fraudulent purchases refunded when using a credit card.
Fake giveaways are another popular scam that cyber criminals use this time of year. If you receive a message on social media, through an email, or by text claiming that you can win, or have already won, a new phone, gift cards, or a luxury vacation, you are likely looking at a scam. These messages will claim that all you need to do is follow a link and provide personal information and you will receive your prize. However, more often than not the prize does not exist, and they are merely using the bogus giveaway to try to access your company’s information. Furthermore, any links in the message that you must follow to obtain your prize may actually contain malware that hackers could use to breach your company’s sensitive data.
As you are likely all too aware, package theft has been on the rise in recent years, with tens of millions of people having their packages stolen each year. Of course, with more packages on the move during the holiday season, thefts tend to go up this time of year as well. Fortunately, if you frequently have packages shipped to your business, or you plan on having packages shipped in the coming weeks, there are steps that you can take to protect yourself. If you plan on having anything valuable delivered to your office, you should make sure that you have the carrier require a signature upon delivery. This ensures that your packages are not left unattended for an extended period of time. You may also be able to request that packages be delivered during a specific timeframe, which can ensure that you are around to receive them when they arrive.
While the holidays can be a time of joy and celebration, scammers often take advantage of peoples’ goodwill during this time. However, taking the proper precautions can help to protect your business from a potential scam and subsequent data breach. Feel free to contact us to learn more about steps that you can take to protect your business from scammers this holiday season.