Top Black Friday and Cyber Monday Scams - 2015

Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark the beginning of holiday shopping season – as well as holiday fraud season. With many people spending more than usual this time of year, cyber criminals will increase their efforts to take advantage of them through scams such as phishing emails(soliciting information), quick money schemes and bogus gift cards.

Here are some of this season's top cyber threats to be on the lookout for as you start your shopping:

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Specials

Scammers often advertise big-ticket items to lure unsuspecting consumers to click on links. Bad guys build complete copies of well-known sites, send emails promoting great deals, sell products and take credit card information – but never deliver the goods.

Sites that seemingly have unbelievable discounts should be a red flag. When something is too good to be true, it likely is.

Free Vouchers or Gift Cards

A common Internet scam involves big discounts on gift cards. These sites usually request enough personal information for criminals to raid victims’ accounts.

Social media sites also offer phony vouchers or gift cards, with some being paired with holiday promotions or contests. Some posts may even appear to have been shared by a victim's friend.Often, these posts lead to online surveys designed to steal persona information.

When following a link, double check the website’s URL or web address for typos, regardless of how minor. Even one letter out of place could indicate that you are not at the intended site.

Postal Delivery Failures

In this scam, targeted consumers receive bogus emails with subject lines such as, “USPS Delivery Failure Notification.”These emails then instruct consumers to click on a link to find out when they can expect delivery.

Clicking on the link activates a virus, which can steal personal information such as usernames, passwords and financial account information stored on the victim's computer.

It's similar to a recent telemarketing scam uncovered by the Postal Inspection Service, in which fraudsters masquerading as USPS employees phoned residents requesting birth dates and Social Security numbers, stating the information was needed for package delivery.

Fakecoupons and refunds

This involves scammers who create tantalizing fake email coupons that appear to be legitimate.

A fake refund scam is also circulating,in which an email appears to come from a hotel or retailer. It claims a “wrong transaction” occurred and asks victims to click for a refund, triggering a malware infection on the victim's device.

Phising from the Dark Side

A new email has begun circulating that tricks people into thinking they could win movie tickets for the highly-anticipated film, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” due out December 18. This email is a phishing attack in disguise! Do not open this email, click on any of the links, or provide any personal information to this sender.

Charity tricksters

The holidays are traditionally a time for giving, but they also bring cyber criminals who attempt to pry money away from people who mean well. Making a donation on the wrong site can mean inadvertently funding cybercrime or even terrorism.

You should be skeptical of communications from charities that ask for contributions and make sure they are legitimate. It's also a good idea to contact the charity directly to verify the request.

Extra holiday money

People can always use some extra money over the holidays,so cyber fraudsters might concoct work-from-home swindles. The most innocent versions of these scams collect confidential information such as Social Security numbers from victims on required forms, and later use them to commit identity theft. The worst versions of them get victims involved in money laundering.

Internet crooks also target vulnerable individuals with pay-in-advance scams and credit offers. In these cases, spam emails advertise pre-qualified, super low-interest credit cards and loans if the consumer pays a processing fee – which goes straight into the scammer's pocket.

The search trap

Bad guys do their research to find out what consumers want, then they build websites that promise the item to their victims. To get more traffic to the sites, they do extra legwork to ensure they pop up on search engines.

These sites contain malware, and experts recommended consumers fully update their web browsers to alert them of unsafe sites.

Also, those seeking a particular Cyber Monday deal should go directly to the store's website instead of a search engine. This will help them avoid scammers perusing search engines to trick shoppers into visiting their bogus sites.

Open Wi-Fi

People often bring their laptops, tablets and smartphones to the mall to browse gifts and search for deals online, but they must understand the bad guys may be right there with them shopping for credit card numbers.

Scammers trick these shoppers by emitting what appears to be a free Wi-Fi signal. If the shopper hops on it, the scammer can gain access to his or her credit card information. Experts advised consumers to never complete a credit card transaction while using a public Wi-Fi connection.

Grinch e-card greetings

These malicious email attachments look like an e-greeting card from a friend or co-worker, with dancing reindeer, holiday music and all.However, they contain viruses or malware that could infect the recipient's workstation.

E-card-triggered viruses and malware are not new, but the latest versions are becoming more difficult for typical antivirus and anti-spam defenses to detect.