Kaspersky warns online Xmas shoppers of top five scams

According to an online shopping survey commissioned by software security vendor, Kaspersky Lab, 76 percent of participants will be purchasing Christmas gifts online this year, and each of these is potentially vulnerable to credit card theft and other scams during the holiday season.

Despite the benefits of online shopping, Kaspersky warns customers not to be complacent. Referring to the ABS study, the vendor highlights that 66 percent of shoppers do not believe their credit card details are at risk of being stolen, despite that one quarter stated they had been a victim of credit card fraud or had money taken from their bank account in the past.

"When it comes to protecting yourself against online scammers, the rule of thumb is always to think twice," Kaspersky Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) product specialist, Wayne Kirby, said. "Before clicking on any links or opening any attachments, ask yourself, is that email from a legitimate company? Or, would my friend really send me this video? Thinking before you click can save your computer, your credit card details, and also your privacy."

Threats explained

Among the plethora of threats, Kaspersky states that the top five holiday scams for which to watch out are:

  • Christmas eCards: While they may be a convenient substitute for a physical card, links to eCards in emails may contain malware. Kaspersky recommends not to click on links from unknown sources.
  • Parcel delivery notifications: Scammers will send fake delivery notification emails to online Christmas shoppers that may infect computers. According to Kaspersky, the most notable are listed as coming from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). The vendor recommends that shoppers write down all tracking numbers for purchases, and not clicking on links that do not match those.
  • Fake order confirmations: Hackers may send fake order confirmation emails from stores that look legitimate, causing shoppers to think someone ordered a product under their name. Kaspersky recommends checking the sender's email address and website URLs before clicking on a link to cancel a transaction as fake emails will rarely match a legitimate company's website exactly. Shoppers should phone a company to confirm if unsure.
  • Holiday screen savers: Holiday-themed screen saver downloads can contain malware. Downloading from a trusted site is recommended as free screen savers are an easy way for hackers to spread malware.
  • Social media malware: Kaspersky said hackers are increasingly using social media to spread malware; fake Facebook Christmas competitions, video links with malware, and Twitter viruses are a few examples. Again, it's a matter of being careful before clicking links.

The study was conducted among a representative sample of 1005 Australians aged 18 to 64 between September 12 and 14. The sample was distributed throughput Australia, and includes respondents from both capital and non-capital city areas.

The survey was commissioned to coincide with the launch of Kaspersky Lab Internet Security 2013, which can be purchased through retailers for an RRP of $49.95, or via Kaspersky's website which is currently running special price offers.

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