By Paul C Dwyer

“Tis the season to get scammed!”

Phishing Scams: PCD Says “Beware of emails that appear to be from charities. Not all will be real and bogus sites could steal your credit card details. These “Phishing” emails can also pretend to be banks, telephone companies and even the revenue commissioners. There is even now a category of “recession based” scams which involve targeting consumers with products such as pre approved loans etc. There is also an increase in “Smishing” attacks, that is phishing messages sent out by text.”

PBX / Telephone Fraud: PCD Says “This is the time of year when SME’s and indeed large enterprises phone systems often get hacked. Hackers penetrate the phone system and can reroute Euro 1,000’s of calls through the companies phone system. The criminals often sell call cards openly in markets and on the streets which operate off these hacked phone systems. The first the company know about it is when they return after Christmas to a massive phone bill. Consider having a security audit on your phone system.”

Free iPad’s: PCD Says “Offers of free iPads and similar gadgets are included in most cyber scams lists at the moment. Victims are often requested to participate in some sort of basic quiz or supply their mobile telephone number. In many cases their mobile phone is then “subscribed” to some sort of service that costs Euro X per week.”

Fake Delivery Services Invoices: PCD Says “Over the Christmas period, cyber criminals will email fake invoices and delivery notifications appearing to come from legitimate courier companies. The emails will indicate that they were unable to deliver a package to your address and of course ask you to confirm your address and provide credit card details pay for delivery.”

Smartphone App Scam: PCD Says “Malicious spyware is disguised in a game or an application, which is then marketed to users. If downloaded, the malware steals data from the phone, such as passwords and financial details. Always check a developer is legitimate and review comments regarding the app.”

Fake Goods: PCD Says “Don’t be stupid, if the offers looks too good to be true it probably is. Beware of imitation goods for sale, most are sub standard, many are dangerous and in some cases lethal. Be especially careful when buying computers good such as laptops etc, we have come across a number “preloaded” with key logging software. There are also lots of fake auctions and classified ad sites appear that over Christmas, make sure you are dealing with a genuine business.”

Social Networking Friend Requests: PCD Says “Scammers take advantage of this social time of year by sending out authentic looking friend requests via email. You should not click on the links in the email but sign into your social networking site and look there for friend requests. If you click on a link it could install malware on your computer. Beware of related scams such as “Help I’ve been Mugged!”, this is when you receive a fake distress message from someone in your network requesting money as they have been robbed whilst traveling.”

Fake Christmas Cards: PCD Says “Be careful if clicking on a Christmas E-card or Gift Cards. This method is used to install Malware and other bad stuff. Many E-cards look genuine and authentic so be very careful when considering click on them. If you use an E-Card service obviously make sure it is a reputable one.”

PC Support Fraud: PCD Says “Criminals will attempt to gain access to your computer by calling up and saying you have a problem with your computer. They often claim to be from large legitimate corporations and will either ask for a payment to fix your computer or ask you to download a software patch. In the first case they will steal your credit cards details and in the second instance they will infect your machine with spyware or malware that will provides access to your machine bandwidth to support other attacks.”

Social Network Virus: PCD Says “This is very basic and involves a friend posting a link on your social network wall page or in the status update. This gives the impression that the site is a safe site to visit. However, in some cases it is the result of malware and could result in the download of viruses on your machine.”

Shopping smart and avoid scams: financial literacy during the holiday season: hearing before the Committee on Banking, Housing