McAfee’s Christmas Survey reveals 56.1% Indians fell prey to discount scams

Are you looking forward to the Christmas break? You are not alone, as cybercriminals are equally thrilled about the holiday season. With online Christmas shopping on the rise, McAfee revealed that 56.1% Indians have fallen victim to discount scams, by clicking on links that took them to a sketchy website. Its recent survey, ‘A Christmas Carol: Scam Edition’, highlights how the year end festivities present a variety of threats, with more than half (53.6%) Indians falling victim to scams resulting from deceiving apps. While cybercriminal activity continues to grow in sophistication, popular scams like email phishing (25.3%) and text phishing (21.1%) still result in close to a quarter of Indians being duped throughout the season.

As the tech savvy generation of online shoppers continue to surge, 35.4% of Indians confess to have been conned by discount scams, where a malicious file was downloaded onto their device. Throughout the festivities, 60.2% have fallen victim to robocalling, and 57.1% through sim jacking. Considering that family vacations and travel is high on the agenda for many Indians, the survey revealed a whopping 78.6% of Indians have been impacted by seasonal travel scams.

A new trend that hit unsavvy consumers hard this festive season was through phony gift cards. A total 39.3% Indians were directed to a site, were they were asked to input personal information such as name, telephone number or credit card information, with 40% losing between INR 10,000 to 15,000. Leveraging the emotional aspects of philanthropy and generosity, 60.7% were victims of fake charities, with scammers impersonating genuine trusts to ask for donations.

Millennials need not fear missing out on the party, as the survey revealed a staggering number (52.6%) between the age of 18 to 24 years, faced the brunt of romance scams, and 60% in the same age group agree to being scammed by e-greetings.

Venkat Krishnapur, Vice-President of Engineering and Managing Director, McAfee India commented – “Consumers choose to beat the holiday rush by purchasing and booking online, but, as transactions surge, so do the cyber-attacks. With the sheer volume of people shopping online, they tend to get careless, carried away with discounts, and open themselves to phishing attacks, frauds, malicious websites, and viruses that aim to steal money and personal information. As threat actors continue to enhance their techniques and explore new creative means of theft, it is crucial that users are mindful of potential risks and undertake necessary measures to protect themselves this holiday season”.       

Like the 12 days of Christmas, below are the 12 Scams of 2019 –

The following list outlines the 12 scams Indians have fallen victim to in 2019 and the percentage of Indians who have experienced them:

  • Email phishing: 25.3%
  • Deceiving apps: 24.3%
  • Discount scams: 24%
  • Streaming or downloading films/TV: 23.7%
  • Streaming or downloading music: 23%
  • Phony online stores:22.2%
  • Deceptive online games: 21.9%
  • Text phishing: 21.1%
  • Fake charities: 20.4%
  • Fake gift cards: 20.3%
  • Shipping notifications scams: 20.2%
  • Sim jacking: 20% 

Tips to stay safe this holiday season:

  • Never reuse passwords. With just one hack, cybercriminals can get their hands-on thousands of passwords, which they can then use to try to access multiple accounts.
  • Stop and pause. Instead of clicking on a link in an email, it is always best to check directly with the source to verify an offer or shipment.
  • Browse with security protection. Use comprehensive security protection, like McAfee Total Protection, which can help protect devices against malware, phishing attacks and other threats. It includes McAfee WebAdvisor, which can help identify malicious websites.
  • Use a tool to help protect your personal information. A solution like McAfee Identity Theft Protection takes a proactive approach to help protect identities with personal and financial monitoring and recovery tools to help keep identities personal and secure

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