It’s Week Six in the 12 Scams of Christmas countdown, and this week it’s all about tech. At the end of this post, there’s a list of the other tips in my 2016 12 Scams of Christmas list. Here’s to you having a happy holiday season, and that’s no scam.
#2 Deceptive online games
I can remember the very first (I think) computer game. It was called “Pong,” and it resembled a game of ping pong. A little ball roamed the screen and two players had to “hit” the ball back and forth with “paddles.” The paddles were nothing more than vertical lines the players could move up and down. How things have changed. These days, online games are realistic video worlds with players competing from all over the globe.
The popularity of games has grown, in part, because smartphones and tablets work well for online and interactive gaming. The other reason is our devices are almost always with us, and we can use them from any location.
The big problem is an online or downloaded game is the same as any other electronic file—this includes software, pictures, and emails. One click can activate malware and viruses capable of infecting all your devices. Here are a few tips to practice before you go off to slay dragons or save the world.
- Check the reputation of the game. Look at reviews and ratings from others. Pay special attention to the One Star reviews and look for common themes in the reviews.
- Stick to reputable app stores to avoid deceptive online games. Go by the mantra, everything comes with a price. In other words, just because someone offers the game at a cheaper price doesn’t mean you won’t pay more in the long run.
#1 Fake holiday media
The fake Santa letter has always been my #1 on my 12 Scams list, but this year I’m broadening the #1 to include a variety of holiday media. This includes holiday-themed email, gift cards, and special offers.
The image in this post came from this morning’s email. It looks very professional and tempting for one of those last-minute gift needs. However, the wine bottle and gift basket image included in the image is downloadable from several different sources. By simply adding the image to an email, this offer could easily become a way to add malware to my computer. The biggest problem is the email came from a very suspicious address.
During the holidays, we can receive e-greeting cards, special deals, offers for Santa letters, and much more. Don’t let professional-looking images in an email trick you. What lies beneath the surface may be very unfriendly.
Final tips for the year:
- Never open an email unless you know who sent it.
- Attachments are guilty until proven innocent. In other words, don’t trust them until you know they’re legitimate.
- Too-good-to-be-true offers, misspelled words, and odd-looking web links are red flags in any email
- Seasons greetings can disguise season’s beatings. Don’t be fooled by subjects in emails offering or promising hope, happiness, and prosperity. Scammers use these subjects extensively.