The holidays are supposed to be a fun-filled time for celebrating with family and friends, but cybercriminals see this as a time of opportunity. They look to take advantage of us during this time when we're in the spirit of giving and when we're scrambling to get our gifts purchased, trees trimmed and donations made.
In a recent study, McAfee found that 70 percent of Americans plan to shop online during the holiday season and that 24 percnet of us will be doing that shopping via our mobile devices. The scary part is that 88 percent of us would be willing to trade personal information in order to receive a great offer -- something that could cause us to fall into scammers' traps.
Here are the "12 Scams of the Holidays," the dozen most dangerous online scams to watch out for this holiday season, revealed yesterday by McAfee.
To make sure your holidays are not stolen by the Grinch, here are some tips on how to protect yourself against scams during the holidays, and year-round:
Stay suspicious: Like mom said, be wary of any offer that sounds too good to be true.
Practice safe surfing: When searching for holiday gifts, use a safe search plug-in such as McAfee SiteAdvisor.
Practice safe shopping: Make sure you stick to reputable e-commerce sites that have been verified as safe by a trusted third-party, like the McAfee SECURE™ mark. Also look for "https" at the beginning of a site's web address, which indicates that the site is secured.
Use strong passwords: Make sure your passwords are at least eight characters long and contain a variety of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
Be careful when clicking: Don't click on links in messages from people you don't know, and use a URL expander to know what site you are going to before clicking on a shortened URL.
Use comprehensive computer security: Make sure you have up-to-date security software that includes antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-spam, and anti-phishing protection for all your devices, including your mobile phone and tablet.
Educate yourself: Keep up-to-date on the latest scams and tricks cybercriminals use, so you can learn to recognize scams and avoid potential attacks.
Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert for McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! Disclosures.