ThreatBites 06 - Christmas Cyber Scams

With Christmas soon approaching we've decided to go on a slightly different tangent and focus on the typical scams you can expect during this festive season and what to look out for. After all, we want you all to be safe this time of year.

ThreatBites 06 - Christmas Cyber Scams

Christmas is a time for giving, but it's also a time for being careful. Unfortunately, scammers take advantage of people during the holiday season more than any other time of year. They know that people are busy and may not be paying as much attention to their finances as they should. In this blog post, our Dark Invader team discuss some of the most common Christmas scams and how to avoid them. Stay safe this holiday season.

What are the Most Common Scams to Watch out for?

The most common scams around this time of year are based around Christmas discounts and offers. Cyber criminals will create fake websites offering too-good-to-be-true discounts and deals, or they'll pretend to be legitimate businesses in order to get people's credit card information. Other scams involve gift cards, charity donations, and even fake contests. A more recently common scam is false text messages about faults with delivery and postage, claiming that you need to click a link in order to get your package delivered.

How Can You Avoid Falling Victim?

The best way to avoid falling victim to any of these scams is to be vigilant and cautious when shopping online or responding to emails and text messages. Only use trusted websites, never provide personal information unless absolutely necessary, double check the URLs and email addresses of any links or messages, and if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. Additionally, be sure to keep your antivirus software up to date, use a secure password for online accounts, and don't click on suspicious links.

How to Protect Yourself from Scams

If a cyber attack is successful, the best way to protect yourself from scams is to be aware and informed. Here are a few tips to help protect yourself:

• Research any offers or deals that seem too good to be true. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

• Double-check the website URL or business name before entering any sensitive information.

• If you're unsure about a website, check its reviews or contact the company directly to verify its legitimacy.

• Be wary of emails and text messages asking for donations or gift cards and never click on suspicious links.

• Use strong passwords that are difficult to guess and use two -factor authentication whenever possible.

• If you suspect a scam, report it to the proper authorities for example the government website.

By following these simple tips, you can help protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud this holiday season. Stay informed and stay safe so that you can enjoy the holidays without worrying about scams or identity theft. Visit our OSINT service page for more information on avoiding scams against your business.


Good afternoon and welcome to another Dark Invader Threat Bite as Christmas is approaching is best to talk about Christmas cyber scams. Holiday preparation and celebrations may keep you busy and distracted. And that's exactly when scammers strike. Keep your holidays bright this year. Let's learn about the Christmas cyber scams and tips to protect you and your loved ones. Joining me today I have Josh, our Senior Dark Invader Investigator and Eagle, his identity has been obscured for privacy. They will both be discussing the cyber scams this year. Thanks for joining me today guys. Thanks for having us. Alan. Thank you very much. So first things first, can you both explain to our listeners why scammers are targeting individuals this Christmas. Eagle, shall we start with you?

I think over Christmas specifically, it's

I think over Christmas specifically, it's very easy for scammers to pressure people in because the stresses of buying lots of presents for everyone can stress you out and opposite is it's very easy for a scammer to fake a delay with a package and that can easily trick someone into being obviously a much more loose with how careful they're being. And I think that's why Christmas specifically is used to target these sorts of people. I concur that So Christmas is a time of giving. We all love Christmas presents. However, there is the possibility that things look too good to be true. If they do, you should just stop and take a second look and ask yourself, Is this actually a reputable source? People should stick to buying things from reputable retailers, such as Amazon or in the shops. Whilst these fake retailers are often targets of such scams. There is often things that people can look out for like spelling mistakes and email addresses which don't confer with the company email format as well, which is good to look out for.

I do think it's great that people have the option to buy online. For example on Amazon like you I've just said Josh, as we enter the final days of Christmas shopping people should be aware of scanners at this time of year and I think scanners are capable of making clone websites. What advice would you give ego for spotting clone websites?

The first thing is always to check the URL in the in the address bar. Make sure that always says the company and always keep checking that whilst you're completing the purchase because there are scams that can take you away from the main site or other things like that. So always check, don't just check the first time as soon as you log off and make sure it's always URL. A lot of browsers these days will let you know, if it's redirected you somewhere weird or something like that. Always check the spelling, which is always quite an obvious giveaway that a scammer has been taking place. And always check that sometimes if you're logged in, check that your username and all your address everything that you signed up with is there because obviously a scammer shouldn't know that. So if they have that information, then you know it must be the real company if they've got your username, just to add well to what you're saying. If something doesn't look right and doesn't feel right, make sure to trust your your basic instinct. Step away. You can always ask a friend or family to verify this information as well. Josh, what are some other red flags to look out for this Christmas? A lot of the red flags we've already covered so far. So spelling, punctuation and grammar is always a big giveaway with some of these scams. However, say doesn't always have to be in an email, it can come over a phone call as well. And if the number doesn't look right, if you don't recognise it as that's always occurred and indicator that you might be just want one to take a pinch of salt when answering the phone call. There's also quite a big WhatsApp scam that has gone wrong this year. And it's scammed a few people have a far better money what this has done, it's been quite clever. It's targeted people's emotional intelligence that's pretended to be our family member. And it's been quite smart and how it's targeted these people that have suffered from this hurt. So always F's ever comes through as a text, you can always make sure that rang the person and ask them why why did you ask for this or that? If it's something if it's a piece of information that someone already knows?

In this case, when receiving these fake text messages, what can we do? One of the easiest things nowadays, so just put the number in Google, if you say you're getting the text from DHL, or DPD, or wherever it is, wherever they claim, you put that number in Google. And you'll know within a fraction of a second if that number is by the company, or come up with DVD or come up with wherever, if that number is a mobile number, for example, obviously, it's not DPD. Obviously, no reputable shipping company will use a mobile phone to text you. And again, look out for the main red flags we've been talking about. So spelling, things like this. In texts, a lot of reputable companies will try and use your name. So you know, it's come from them. So they know you know, put the shipping number if check that that is the right shipping number on your email number. So they're not just giving you a random number to try and make it look more convincing. These are the easy things that don't take long at all that will instantly confirm whether it's right or not. I don't know about yourself, but I always use multifactor of the application on websites as well.

One time pass codes are also a good way to help combat these. There is multiple strategies out there to help strengthen your cybersecurity posture as well. Definitely agree with you there Josh about multifactor authentication, I think that's really important as even if one credential becomes compromised on authorised users will be unable to meet the second authentication requirement and will not be able to access the targeted physical space. Josh, can you explain the term smishing to our listeners. So smashing is a phrase which is derived from phishing. And it has developed into a scam which occurs through SMS message. As mobile phones have become more and more part and part of our daily lives, they have always been.

The threat actors have always used these to be one step ahead. And this factor of attack is now defined as smashing Eagle when we get these fake scams, whether they are text messages, emails, clone websites, what are the best places to report them to, there is also a Google phishing submission page where you can submit a URL, and that will get blocked off of Google, which given the, you know, the vast majority of Internet users out there, you Google, it will ping out, I'm sure you're all seeing that the red screen that says there's a security risk ahead. If you put a suspicious link in there, within sort of five minutes, usually Google will take that site off and put that red screen to protect people. So if you do get a suspicious link, if you just Google Google's phishing submission, you can submit that link to them, and it will get taken off of Google search results.

So if you think you may have been a victim of a fraud or cybercrime on you live in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you can always report this to action fraud. as well. NCSC have also developed a website where you can report scam websites. Citizens Advice are also very keen on fighting these sorts of scams.

I know that last year many people and myself received fake text messages from the post office. And on the official post office website. You can actually report these scams on there. I think it is worthwhile that other companies start to look into this and make a page on their website where they can report these scams to Josh what is the best advice you have for our threat by listeners to avoid Christmas cyber scams this year?

So who can you talk to if you've been been scammed? Well, you can always tell your bank or financial institution if you have noticed a suspicious transaction from your bank or credit card. They will try to recover any lost money. You can cancel your card, you can block your card you can order new cards, as we've said before you can report the scam to the place.

So say if you've reported a scam last Christmas, then hopefully the scam doesn't come back. The last Christmas come in action fraud. They have a nice online reporting tool. There's also charities, victim support think the Samaritans that can offer emotional advice if you're feeling anxious, fearful or guilty. Or if you need car on support. There is local council, Adult Social Services which can provide safe garden give you advice on what action to take as well.

Definitely agree with you there Josh. Eagle How about you? What advice do you have for our listeners?

I think it all comes down to zero trust especially at Christmas time because you are obviously going to receive a lot of legitimate emails and texts from these shipping companies. And it can become difficult when you're getting so many to differentiate the ones that are scams. So just treat all of them as scams until proven otherwise. And make sure you're being really vigilant with these because again, you are gonna get a lot of these anyway. So it's not quite as out of the blue at all times of the year. So just make sure you've been extra vigilant. And now don't trust any of them on the face of the value.

I agree with you their Eagle, if you are listening to this threat by episode right now. And you think you may have received a phishing email, for example, let's say from Amazon, hover over the link and it will tell you if it is from Amazon or not. If the email is spelled wrong, it has spelling mistakes, then it is a phishing email, isn't that right Eagle?

I agree with you there. And then especially it's a good technique, if you get these emails. If you hover over them, you can see why it's taking you before you have to click on it. Because there are many types of scams. Even if you just click on it, it can start doing damage. So even hovering over it can tell you where it's going to take and if it's obviously not the Amazon domain or not the Facebook domain or wherever you're expecting it to be. Don't click on it.

Josh, are there any more Christmas cyber scams that we haven't covered today?

Yes, there is loads of scams either on fortunately, another one is pop ups which do occur. One way to fight these is are blockers on your internet browsers. Most are free. Our come with your antivirus tool which gets installed. They will stop you from seeing these pop ups. However, if you do see them and they often sound far too good to be true. I think you have both covered great points today on how to be safe on Christmas Cyber scams. Never click on links in text messages no matter how realistic they may seem also from phishing emails, if you do want to contact the vendor who has sent you this email, or text message do so but only through the official website so it is safe, but most importantly, stay safe this Christmas. Thanks for having us. And thank you very much. Join me next week on another Dark Invader Threat Bite.

Happy Christmas!


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