Robert Siciliano identity theft expert

Cybercriminals Take Advantage of the Holiday Season, Aiming to Steal Consumers’ Money, Identities and Financial Information

As cybercriminals begin to take advantage of the holiday season, McAfee, Inc. revealed the “Twelve Scams of Christmas” – the twelve most dangerous online scams that computer users should be cautious of this holiday season. According to Consumer Reports’ 2009 State of the Net Survey, cybercriminals have bilked $8 billion from consumers in the past two years, and McAfee warns consumers not to fall victim to the top scams this year.

“Cybercriminals’ use their best schemes during the holidays to steal people’s money, credit card information, social security number and identity,” said Jeff Green, senior vice president of McAfee Labs. “These thieves follow seasonal trends and create holiday-related Web sites, scams and other convincing e-mails that can trick even the most cautious users.”

Being that I’m on McAfee’s Consumer Advisory Board, I’m advising you to adhere to the following:

McAfee’s 3 of Twelve Scams of Christmas

Scam I: Charity Phishing Scams – Be Careful Who You Give To

During the holiday season, hackers take advantage of citizens’ generosity by sending e-mails that appear to be from legitimate charitable organizations. In reality, they are fake Web sites designed to steal donations, credit card information and the identities of donors.

Scam II: Fake Invoices from Delivery Services to Steal Your Money

During the holidays, cybercriminals often send fake invoices and delivery notifications appearing to be from Federal Express, UPS or the U.S. Customs Service. They e-mail consumers asking for credit card details to credit back the account, or require users to open an online invoice or customs form to receive the package. Once completed, the person’s information is stolen or malware is automatically installed on their computer.

Scam III: Social Networking – A Cybercriminal “Wants to be Your Friend”

Cybercriminals take advantage of this social time of the year by sending authentic-looking “New Friend Request” e-mails from social networking sites. Internet users should beware that clicking on links in these e-mails can automatically install malware on computers and steal personal information.

Stay tuned to parts II, III & IV.

Get a credit freeze. Go online now and search “credit freeze” or “security freeze” and go to consumersunion.org and follow the steps for the state you live in. This is an absolutely necessary tool to secure your credit. In most cases it prevents new accounts from being opened in your name. This makes the SSN useless to the thief.

Invest in Intelius Identity Theft Protection and Protection. While not all forms of identity theft can be prevented, you can effectively manage your personal identifying information by knowing what’s buzzing out there in regards to YOU.

Robert Siciliano, identity theft speaker, discusses Christmas Holiday Scams on Mike and Juliet.

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