While most of us are thinking about chocolate at this time of year, others are thinking of how to sugarcoat online scams to catch the unwary. Cybercriminals like to take full advantage of seasonal holidays – as seen at Christmas and Valentine’s Day - and Easter is another lucrative opportunity in their busy calendar.
Michael McKinnon, Security Advisor at AVG Technologies, the online security company for devices, data and people, warns: “While you’re relaxing away from work, Easter provides a prime time for cybercrims to get in under your defences. As you nibble on a hot cross bun and sift through your backlog of emails or surf the web, don’t be taken in by the highly sophisticated, legitimate looking scams that will pop up over the coming days.”
To help you have an EGGstremely safe and EGGcellent break, McKinnon advises there are three Easter-themed scams to watch out for:
1. Scam holiday and accommodation offers
Many families use Easter as the last long break before the cold of winter. This is where you can fall victim to scam holiday and accommodation schemes.
Only use reputable online companies to book your holidays. Confirm your accommodation with your destination before you pay. If you receive unsolicited calls or emails with ‘amazing’ deals, don’t just hand over your credit card details before researching whether they are ‘too good to be true’.
2. Charity scams
Many reputable charities use Easter as one of their main door-knock and fundraising campaign times – take for example the Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal. Sadly, fraudsters and cybercriminals piggyback on these by misrepresenting who or what they are collecting for.
Always ask to see valid identification from anyone knocking on your door and purporting to be a charity collector. Also beware of charity requests on Facebook® and other social media during Easter. If in doubt, don’t pay the money to the collector or click dodgy links on social media; make a donation directly to the charity.
3. Easter e-mail attachments
Keep an eye on your inbox for e-mail attachments that look like they’re from a ‘friend’ sending you a cute Easter character doing something entertaining. If you click on a link or open a maliciously crafted file – even something as innocent looking as a Microsoft Word or PDF Document - you could open your device to malware. Even if the e-mail attachment is from a real friend, their computer might be infected too.
Unknown e-mail attachments aren’t worth the risk, so just don’t open them. Stay alert this Easter and keep your operating system, Internet Security, and all other software up to date, and avoid being left hopping mad!
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