We’re into the holiday season which should be a happy time for people.  But it’s also the time of year when, unfortunately, the scammers also are keeping busy figuring out ways to steal personal and financial information.  The scammers count on people being so busy, and getting more holiday-related emails, that they might be too busy to be as careful about online scams and suspicious looking emails.

There are resources that can help people avoid having the holidays marred by these scams.  The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has a blog providing very helpful tips as well as a list of links to other useful resources (www.us-cert.gov; “Holiday Season Phishing Scams and Malware Campaigns”).

I’m summaring the US-CERT article into the top 5 tips:

  1. Malware can come in electronic greeting cards;
  2. Charitable contribution emails could be phishing scams coming from scammers; verify whether the charity’s authentic by going to the Better Business Bureau’s National Charity Report Index or the Federal Trade Commission’s Charity Checklist;
  3. Online shopping ads might actually be phishing scams or identity theft attempts from scammers posing as retailers;
  4. Do not follow unsolicited web links in email messages; and
  5. Use caution when opening email attachments.

Take the time to read the US-CERT article and look at some of the other helpful resources listed there (e.g., “Using Caution with Email Attachments”; “Recognizing and Avoiding Email Scams” (pdf)).  A few minutes doing so might help you protect your personal and financial information, your computer and help make for better holiday memories.