Scrooged: 12 Xmas-themed Scams

Dangerous search terms

Andrew Brandt of Webroot recently blogged about how prevalent dangerous sites have become in search results. Brandt searched for news about Zhu Zhu Pets.

Graphic: Diego Aguirre
"What I found were a flood of fake alert sites mixed in with the legitimate search results," said Brandt.

The bad guys know what people want, and they are getting cleverer about devising dangerous sites that will be ranked high if a user searches for a popular term. Using the most up-to-date version of your browser can help. If you try and head to a malware-laden site, the latest version of today's browsers will often warn you first that the site contains dangerous content.

Seasonal email scams

Merry Christmas, Mary! The email attachment looks like a holiday greeting card. It even has your name on it. It must be from someone you know, you think. Think again. The number of malicious e-cards circulating to personal and business computers is expected to rise this year, according to Unisys. Cohn suggests that even in a workplace setting, individuals should never open an email or attachment from an unknown sender and do not download 'exe' files as these often contain adware, unwanted downloads and spyware.

If you can't resist opening a file, drag it into your 'junk' email folder first as this allows you to check all the links to see if they are legitimate. If a site looks suspicious, follow your instincts and don't click on it.

Friend "requests"

If you are one of those people who will accept any friend request you get on Facebook, this is a particularly dangerous time of the year to be too friendly. Because of the information you disclose on social networking sites, they can be a goldmine for identity thieves.

"It's surprising to me how many people on Facebook put their birthday," said Cohn. "Not just the date, but the year."

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