FRISCO -- Cyber crimes scammed people out of nearly $3 trillion in 2015, and that number could double by 2016. As one presidential candidate found out, online hackers have become nearly unstoppable when it comes to getting private information.
And the holiday season is their favorite time of year.
“They will play on sympathies and emotions,” said Shawn Tuma, a cyber security attorney. “Bad guys are trying to make Christmas money as well.”
Though credit card fraud is an obvious pitfall while online shopping, Tuma says the scam artists will use what is called “social engineering” or tricks to play on people’s feelings and make them do something they would not ordinarily do.
“They will say there is a family that needs money and needs help, but it will not be a reputable charitable organization. It will be the individuals doing it and a lot of time those are scams playing on your sympathies.”
The scams will come in many different forms and fashions and often have the appearance of a legit organization. Typically, it requires a user to click on a link to either “claim a prize” or “update their account” but the link is actually a malware agent opening a window for personal information to be stolen.
Heimdal Security compiled several examples that show scams using the name of reputable companies like PayPal, DHL, and Amazon.
Tuma suggests users start with the presumption they are trying to be scammed and then look for verifications and authentications, such as the secure “padlock” symbol which appears next to website URLS, to make sure they are safe. Stay away from public wi-fi systems and use credit cards instead of debit cards when possible.