Be on the lookout for clever cybercriminals this holiday season. USA Today reports that enterprising criminals follow the new trends, which this year means mobile devices and social media.
Faked email messages purporting to be from shipping companies rose 62% in third quarter 2013 over the second quarter, and can be expected to further increase this quarter. One in 10 people targeted by these phishing scams will open the link or fill out a fake form.
Security firm Proofpoint warns consumers to be on the lookout for emails with fake delivery confirmations or order notices. The company says bogus emails have already been seen that claim to be from legitimate companies. They can appear to be from shipping companies like FedEx and UPS, online retailers such as Amazon and eBay, or big stores like Wal-Mart and Target. If you click on the link, the scammers can access your computer.
Microsoft has a webpage giving in-depth information on phishing. It explains that cybercriminals can install malicious software on your computer or steal personal information from your computer.
Microsoft has a sample of what a phishing email looks like. One dead giveaway, they advise, is spelling errors. These guys are clever, but they often betray themselves with typos or grammar errors, of the kind that companies hire copy editors to correct. Also beware of links in the email message. If you’re at all suspicious, they advise to rest your mouse on the link (without clicking) and the link’s true address will appear. Note if the address matches the link as it was printed in the email.
Scammers also use web addresses that look like the names of well-known companies but if you look closely, they are slightly different.
Experts advise consumers to be a little paranoid, because these guys’ strategies are very subtle. One cautions, “If something seems phishy, exit out.”