Be Scam Smart: Holiday Scams

Cell phone scam smart icon graphic.

Be Scam Smart This Holiday Season

As the Holiday season approaches, it's essential to be vigilant and well-prepared for a variety of scams and cyber threats that tend to surge during this time. By understanding and addressing these challenges, you can ensure the safety and security of your financial information and personal data.

Package Delivery Scams

The holiday season often witnesses a surge in package deliveries. Cybercriminals are aware of this and may attempt to exploit the situation through package delivery scams. These scams typically involve phishing emails or text messages that impersonate well-known delivery services, such as UPS, FedEx, or Amazon Prime. Unsuspecting people might receive a message claiming that their package delivery was unsuccessful and urging them to click on a link for more information. However, this link may lead to a fraudulent website designed to steal personal information or install malware on the recipient's device. Therefore, it's crucial to remain vigilant, verify the sender's information, and avoid clicking on suspicious links. When tracking deliveries, you should rely on official delivery service apps or websites to minimize the risk of falling victim to these scams.

Wi-Fi Hotspot Attacks

The excitement of holiday sales often drives people to physical stores to secure the best deals on their favorite products. In the rush to take advantage of these offers, many people may find themselves waiting in long lines, either outside the store or in crowded shopping areas. It's during these moments that opportunistic cybercriminals may attempt Wi-Fi attacks, preying on unsuspecting individuals who connect to public Wi-Fi networks without taking adequate precautions. Such networks, while convenient, can be inherently insecure, providing malicious actors with a golden opportunity to intercept sensitive data. To mitigate this risk, you should disable the auto-connect feature on your devices, which can automatically connect to open or insecure Wi-Fi networks.

Bluetooth Attacks (Bluesnarfing)

In the spirit of visiting friends and family during the holiday season, many people choose to stay in hotels. Some hotels have implemented modern conveniences, such as smartphone apps that allow guests to unlock their room doors using Bluetooth technology. While this can be a convenient feature, it's essential to be cautious about their Bluetooth settings. Leaving Bluetooth in discoverable mode can make it susceptible to unauthorized pairing and potential data theft. Cybercriminals with malicious intent may strategically place Bluetooth-enabled devices in hotel parking lots or nearby areas, attempting to pair with guests' phones. To protect against this threat, you should ensure that your Bluetooth settings are not in discoverable mode when not in use. When enabling Bluetooth for specific purposes, such as unlocking hotel room doors, confirm that you are securely paired with trusted connections to significantly reduce the risk of potential attacks.

Gift Card Scams

While not exclusive to the holiday season, it's vital to remember that gift cards are designed to be a means of gifting, not a legitimate form of payment. Scammers often request payment in the form of gift cards as it provides them with a relatively untraceable method of acquiring funds. Therefore, be cautious when approached by anyone requesting payment with gift cards. It is crucial to verify the legitimacy of such requests and promptly report any suspicious activity to the relevant authorities. By staying vigilant and understanding the primary purpose of gift cards, you can protect yourself from falling prey to scams involving this payment method.

It is important to always be vigilant and well-prepared for the variety of scams out there, but especially during the holiday season. By being cyber-aware, you can help ensure the safety and security of your financial information and personal data. If you ever have any questions, First Federal Bank is here to help guide you. Visit our Security page for additional information.