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5 Unknown Phishing Scams to Watch for During the Holidays

It’s the best time of year for finding great deals — and the best time of year for hackers. Learn how to avoid lesser-known phishing scams this season.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for spending time with family and friends — and finding great holiday gifts at incredible prices. As you spend more money online and hunt for the best deals, hackers introduce more clever phishing scams to lure you in. These phishing scams go far beyond the more obvious ones, such as a fake email about winning a contest or a Google ad for a discounted luxury item. Here are 5 lesser-known phishing scams to watch out for this holiday season:

An Email That Your Transaction Was Declined
While shopping this season, the last thing you want is for your card to be declined. If you receive an email that says your credit card or PayPal transaction was declined for a recent order, this is a phishing scam. Don’t click on any links or hand over your personal information. If you must check your account or the status of your order, manually type in the correct URL and log in to your account to verify that everything is in okay. You could also download an antivirus app like dfndr security to regularly scan your phone for any malware. The best feature you might want to activate in our app is anti-hacking because during the flurry of a shopping session this feature can identify and block malicious links before you click on them. Turn it on to try it:

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Spoofed Two-Factor Authentication
In this phishing scam, a hacker uses a victim’s phone number and email address to assume her identity and ask Google (or another service) to reset the password for her email account. Whenever Google texts the victim with the reset code, the hacker will then pose as Google to text the victim about unusual account activity, and request that the victim send the hacker the reset code to confirm her identity. If the victim sends the reset code to the fake Google text, then she has just given the hacker the ability to access her account.

Instagram Shopping Scams
Boutique accounts have become incredibly popular on Instagram, with items often selling out within minutes. While there are many legitimate Instagram boutiques out there, you should be wary of shady accounts that try to lure you in by purchasing an item or clicking on a link. Before you shop on Instagram, make sure that the boutique you’re interested in is legitimate by paying attention to the number of followers, the seller’s language, and any reviews or websites that discuss the boutique.

Fake Promotional Emails With Coupons
Maybe you ignore promotional emails altogether, or maybe you check them for the latest sales and deals at your favorite stores. If you receive an email this season that promises an incredible deal, don’t click on any links or images in the email — it could be an email spoofing your favorite retailer. To ensure that the deal is legitimate, check the email’s language, compare the email to past emails, and go to the store’s website to find the deal or contact customer service to verify the email.

Shipping Scams
With this scam, you’ll receive a fake email from UPS or FedEx informing you that your package was unable to be delivered. To remedy this issue, the email will ask you to click an infected link or open a malicious attachment. If you receive an email like this, ignore it — these services will never email you about undeliverable packages. Further, be wary of any odd-looking emails that contain a tracking number — the link could be fake.