Top scams you should watch for this holiday season

(BPT) – The holiday season is a time to celebrate and spread joy, but while you’re focused on merrymaking, cybercriminals are primed to turn your good times into their good fortune. With a mix of tactics, there’s a lot you should be aware of this season to keep your personal information and finances safe.

Top scams of 2019

What scams are at the top of cybercriminals’ go-to lists? Nearly half (48%) of Americans have been a victim of or know someone who has been a victim of robocalling in 2019, according to a recent McAfee survey, A Christmas Carol: Scam Edition, making it the worst scam of the year.

While cybercriminal activity continues to grow in sophistication, tried-and-true tricks of the past continue to steal from well-meaning Americans. Survey respondents reported being targeted with email phishing (41%) and text phishing (35%). These, along with robocalling, are the top three prominent scams of the year. Together, they are taking a financial toll, with 74% of respondents losing more than $100 and almost a third (30%) losing more than $500.

Scams poised to increase this holiday season

Retail risks: While traditional scams like robocalling continue to pay off for criminals, that doesn’t mean they aren’t trying more sophisticated methods as well. The growing trend of personal online accounts for retailers is a big opportunity for thieves. In fact, more than 2.2 billion stolen account credentials were made available on the cybercriminal underground over the course of Q1 2019.

App information: As people use their devices and apps for everyday tasks like holiday shopping and movie streaming, they are sharing more personal information than ever before. By targeting popular consumer apps, cybercriminals are able to collect and store key data that can be used for malicious activity in the future.

Fake gift cards: A new trend that is poised to take off this holiday season is phony gift cards, which people are purchasing only to realize there is no money on the card they are providing to loved ones. The survey found that not even half (43%) of respondents are aware of bogus gift cards, meaning it’s something to be keenly aware of this season.

How to stay safe this holiday season

Numerous threats new and old mean that the 2019 holidays could be the most dangerous yet. However, with a little proactive effort, you can help ensure you keep your holiday merry and bright and protect yourself from scams.

Step 1: Never reuse passwords
If cybercriminals hack your one password, they can use it to access multiple accounts. Use unique passwords for each account you create and update passwords regularly.

Step 2: Click with care
If you see an offer in an email that seems too good to be true, it just might be. Instead of clicking on a link in an email, check directly with the source to verify an offer or shipment.

Step 3: Browse with confidence
Use comprehensive security protection, like McAfee Total Protection, to protect devices against malware, phishing attacks and other threats. It includes McAfee WebAdvisor, which identifies malicious websites so you can shop online with confidence.

Step 4: Protect personal information
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so consider a proactive solution like McAfee Identity Theft Protection that provides personal and financial monitoring and recovery tools to help keep identities secure.

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