OSI 2016 Holiday Scam Public Awareness Message

  • Published
  • AFOSI Public Affairs

Department of Defense members and their families should be wary of various online, social media, phone and work from home scams which take place during the holiday season.


Online scams during the holiday season are centered on gaining personal and banking information. This is done usually under the guise of an unusually discounted brand name product, banking scams and false tracking numbers.


Cyber criminals may ask the victim to pay for goods in an unusual manner such as gift cards or the release banking information. Users may also receive phishing emails drafted to look like bank inquires or tracking numbers from FEDEX or UPS. Online charity scams also spike during the holiday season by representing false charities in the purist of money or banking information scams.


Users should be wary of social media scams. These scams take the appearance of gift card/voucher links on popular social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Other social media scams take the appearance of promotions but are actual social engineering surveys designed to steal personal information.


Users should also be wary of posting photos of event tickets as criminals can use the barcodes to recreate those tickets for resale.


Smartphone scams will mirror several of the online and social media scams discussed above. However, users should also be wary of fraudulent applications which mirror official storefront applications. These fraudulent applications may seek elevated privileges which seek access to personal information.


Employment scams are also prevalent during the holiday season. These are usually advertised for quick ways to make extra cash during the holiday season and they usually require the prospective employee to spend money upfront on training or start up kits. These may also be advertised as work from home positions. Carefully research individuals or companies before providing them with personal information and never provide personal information when first interacting with a potential employer.


Situational awareness is typically the best mitigation for most of these scams. Avoid clicking and opening unsolicited emails from unknown senders, this includes being cautious of unknown email attachments. When receiving tracking numbers, check with the original shipper or vendor to ensure that is not a fraudulent tracking number. Make sure to check bank and credit card statements regularly and only buy merchandise from a reputable source.


Additional information concerning phishing and social engineering scams can be found at (copy and paste the URL into browser): Internet Crime Prevention Tips: https://www.ic3.gov/preventiontips.aspx.