Common Law - The FindLaw Consumer Protection Law Blog

Top 12 Holiday Cyber Scams Revealed

For the first scam of Christmas, my true love gave to me: One free iPad.

The "12 Scams of Christmas" list has been released and a free iPad is among the top scams on the internet this year. Software security firm McAfee released the list to help educate shoppers who may get a little too carried away in their quest for bargains and fall victim to a scam.

"Every holiday season BBB hears from holiday shoppers who paid for a supposedly great deal online, but received nothing in return," said Alison Southwick of the Better Business Bureau.

Over the years, the scammers have continued to become more sophisticated. For example, they are now making use of social media to exploit their marks. However, despite their advancements, there is almost always some kind of clue or indication that something is amiss.

For the full list, check out the write up on MSNBC. Here are a few of our favorites from the list:

"Help! I’ve Been Robbed": Con artists send fake distress messages to acquaintances telling them that they have been robbed and need money sent to them. Generally they are going to want the money sent via an unsecure channel like Western Union, which is a tipoff.

Fake gift cards: Using social media, scammers "promote fake gift card offers with the goal of stealing consumers’ information and money, which is then sold to marketers or used for ID theft," says McAfee. Be wary of gift card offers on sites like Facebook. These kinds of offers are constantly scams. In addition, Facebook users rarely have any idea how much information they are signing over to a third party when they participate.

"Smishing" scams: A new term this year, smishing is when you receive spam in the form of a text message. "These texts appear to come from your bank or an online retailer saying that there is something wrong with an account and you have to call a number to verify your account information." McAfee says. When you call, the person on the other end poses as a company representative and steals your information. Remember to verify numbers before you call them, and when in doubt, only call the number on the back of your card or listed on the actual company website.

So there you have it. As P. T. Barnum said, "there's a sucker born every minute." And if you believe that, I'm afraid you're a sucker too. Barnum is well known for coining the phrase, except by all accounts, he never made such a statement.

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