Scam Radar — December 2023

Below are three new scams to keep on your radar, as well as some tips for how to avoid them. Be on the look out for yourself, your family, and your clients! THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK!

Holiday Post-Shopping Scams

Finished your holiday shopping yet? Cybercriminals are just getting started! There are thousands of shopping-themed scams this time of year, but those scams don’t end when your cart is empty. Cybercriminals continue to target shoppers with urgent phishing emails about their recent purchases.

Two common post-shopping scams are fake shipping delays and unexpected purchase confirmations. Typically, these scams include a sense of urgency designed to catch you off guard in the hopes that you will click impulsively. You may be directed to click a link for tracking information or download a receipt for an expensive order that you did not place. These emails can be alarming, but if you take your time, they are easy to catch.

Tips to Avoid Similar Scams:

  • If you are expecting a package and receive a related email, look for details such as the order number, purchase date, and payment method.
  • If you receive a notice from a retailer, don’t click any links in the email. Instead, use your browser to navigate directly to the retailer’s official website and look up your order there.
  • Remember to stop and look for red flags! For example, see if the email was sent outside of business hours or lists prices in a currency that you don’t typically use.

Disney+ Impersonators

Callback phishing is when a phishing email directs you to call a number instead of clicking on a link. These emails are often fake notifications that encourage you to make a call to correct an error. A recent scam impersonating the popular streaming service, Disney+, is a great example of this tactic.

In this scam, cybercriminals send an email that appears to be an invoice from Disney+. The email states that you will be charged for a new subscription and directs you to call the number provided if this was an unauthorized purchase. To make the email more alarming, the amount of money shown is three times the advertised price of a monthly subscription. If you call the number in the email, a cybercriminal posing as customer services will answer. They will ask you for sensitive information, like your payment method, and may even try to gain remote access to your device.

Tips to Avoid Similar Scams:

  • Be suspicious of emails that contain a sense of urgency. Cybercriminals use a sense of urgency as an attempt to catch you off guard and get you to act impulsively.
  • Consider the email’s context, timing, grammar, and other details. For example, does the invoice reference your real credit or debit card?
  • Avoid calling phone numbers provided in emails. Instead, navigate to an official website to find the best contact number.

Smishing is All the Rage

According to a recent report from security vendor, Zimperium, you are six to ten times more likely to be tricked by SMS phishing (smishing) than traditional email phishing. Cybercriminals love this fact, so smishing has become extremely popular. It’s important to understand the significance of these attacks and how to stay safe.

This surge in smishing attacks also comes with new threats. For example, did you know that you could get malware on your mobile device? In fact, Zimperium reported a 51 percent increase in mobile malware samples in 2022. The report also states that 80 percent of malicious websites function on mobile browsers. This means that cybercriminals are specifically designing their attacks for use on mobile devices.

Tips to Avoid Similar Scams:

  • THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK (or tap)! Like the other scams above, these cyberattacks were designed to make you click links impulsively.
  • Consider the origin of the text message. Did you sign up for SMS alerts? Is the message similar to other text messages you’ve received from this organization?
  • Never log in to an account from a link in a text message. Instead, navigate to the organization’s official website to log in.

For more information regarding scams, please visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer Advice website.

You can also find details about the signs of a scam, how to avoid a scam, and how to report a scam in this article by the FTC — How to Avoid a Scam.

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