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In just a couple of weeks you will be out of time to shop online and have that gift delivered in time for the holiday. I expect that there will be a surge in phishing attacks designed to take advantage of the panic factor. You get an email that says something to the effect that there is suspicious activity on your account or that your account will be closed if you don’t update your information, and so on. It may be a PayPal account, a bank account, a credit card account, or even an email account. You panic… I can’t have that account closed now, I have to shop, shop, shop!!!
Stop, Stop, Stop!!! Do not click on that link in the email Do not send your name and password. These are all phishing attacks. If the email was legitimate you could simply type www.paypal.com or www.amex.com, or whatever it is into your browser and log into your account there to see if there is a problem. You can call your bank.
Are you having problems finding some special item? All of the sudden some web site says they have limited stock for what you are looking for, but you have never heard of this web site before. Perhaps it is even at a “too good to be true” price! Do a little research. Try typing in the name of the company with the word scam and the word complaint in a Google search. For example:
bestclothes.com scam complaint
OK, don’t use bestclothes.com, it is only an example, use the name of the company you are considering buying from.
Look at see what comes up. Lot of legitimate companies have complaints, but are people saying their money was stolen? It is even better if you know somebody who has had good results with a merchant. There are going a lot of bogus websites trying to steal your money, don’t let panic turn into loss.
Beware of your search results. If you are searching for the “Zhu Zhu Pet Hamster” the bad guys know it and are trying to make sure that their evil web pages come up in your search results. Pay attention to the web site you are going to. If you see something that says you need to install software or update software, get out of there. Close your browser now and do not click on anything on that web page. If you land on a web page and it starts “scanning your computer” it is a hoax. Close your browser immediately.
Stay calm, stay safe, and have a happy holiday season!
Director of Technical Education.
Author ESET Research, ESET