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Online Holiday Scams: 12 Popular Scams During Shopping Season


"On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me" ... an online scammer who stole all my mo-ney.

This sounds like the worst holiday shopping experience (and song) ever, but according to a new survey released by security company McAfee, online scams are more popular than ever during the Christmas season and consumers should be more aware of credit card fraud.

The survey found that out of the 70 per cent of those who planned to shop online this season, 24 per cent of them planned to use their mobile devices. The survey also found that even though the respondents were aware of the risks, they were still willing to give their personal information online — as long as they got something of value in return.

And online scams are not just happening on shopping sites. The survey found that scammers were able to steal credit card information and send viruses from text message scams, fake classified ads and even through fake charities.

If you are planning to use your phone to buy any gifts make sure you do your research. Look for testimonials, websites and even call in if you are not familiar with a brand or website, according to the RCMP. The site also recommends shoppers to only use their home computers to purchase items and make sure you always verify your wireless connections.

And these instances are being treated very seriously too. If you are a victim of an online shopping scam or fear you may be caught in one, contact local police and report the fraud to a fraud centre, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

LOOK: 12 online scams you don't want to get yourself into this holiday season, courtesy of McAfee:

12 Holiday Scams To Avoid

Social Media Scams:

Scammers use sites, like Facebook and Twitter, to confuse consumers during the holidays. Be careful what you click on or 'like' — especially when you see online contests, fan page deals or apps to receive discounts.

Malicious Mobile Apps:

As the popularity of apps have grown, so have the chances that you could download a malicious application designed to steal your information or even send out premium-rate text messages without your knowledge.

Travel Scams:

Before you book your flight or hotel, keep in mind that scammers are looking to hook you up with deals that may be fake. Scammers can use phony travel webpages that use beautiful pictures and low prices to lure you in.

Fake Brands:

If you want to buy something fancy, go straight to the store. Cheap Rolex watches and pharmaceuticals may be advertised as the “perfect gift” for that special someone — and be 100 per cent fake.

Apple Scams:

Some sites will mention Apple product giveaways in phony contests and phishing emails as a way to grab computer users’ personal information. If you see an ad that says "free iPad," it's probably fake.

Skype Message Scare:

Skype users, be alert: there is a new Skype message scam that attempts to infect computers and take personal information. Never click any unfamiliar links that are sent to your chatbox.

Bogus Gift Cards:

Be wary of buying gift cards from third parties — just imagine how embarrassing it would be to find out that the gift card you gave someone was fake.

Holiday SMiShing:

“SMiSishing” is phishing via text message. Just like with email phishing, the scammer tries to lure you in to reveal personal information.

Phony E-Tailers:

Phony e-commerce sites that appear real try to lure you into typing in your credit card number and other personal details, often by promoting great deals.

Fake Charities:

This is one of the biggest scams every holiday season. As we open up our hearts and wallets, you may be giving to a fake charity altogether — do your research before you donate.

Dangerous E-cards:

E-cards are a popular way to send a quick “thank you” or holiday greeting, but some are malicious and may contain spyware or viruses that download onto your computer.

Phony Classifieds:

Online classified sites may be a great place to look for holiday gifts and part-time jobs, but beware of phony offers that ask for too much personal information.

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