MILWAUKEE (WITI) — There's no doubt people everywhere are opening up their wallets this time of year, but watch out. It's the season of giving, but scammers are looking to take as much as they can. Whether you're shopping or donating, there's plenty of people looking to take advantage of you around the holidays.
The first item on that list is in your inbox. Scammers fish for people who will click on their bogus holiday e-mails. They're called phishing e-mails, but there's an easy solution to make sure you don't fall into the trap.
"I recommend not clicking links in the body of th e-mails because if you do, you're going to get malware, malicious software, spyware that's designed to watch what you do," says online security expert for McAfee, Robert Siciliano.
Another popular holiday scam — deceptive advertising. People everywhere are deal hunting and hackers use that to steal personal information.
"You might see a link on, say, Facebook for a Kohl's or Best Buy gift card for 50% off. I mean, really, are they going to offer a gift card for 50% off? If it's a too good to be true offer — don't click it," Siciliano says.
Next thing on the list — using your devices in public.
With the craziness of the crowds around the holidays, don't leave your laptops, tablets and smartphones unattended. It's more likely to be stolen or have information stolen off of it.
Another thing to be weary of when using your devices in public is free Wi-Fi.
"Free Wi-Fi is essentially vulnerable to hackers sniffing out that data as it travels over the web," says Siciliano.
You don't have to stop using it completely, but it's important to protect your devices. A simple solution is creating a Virtual Private Network or VPN. A VPN will encrypt your connection and keep your information safe and private over free Wi-Fi.
Another thing to keep an eye out for during the holidays is fake charities. Typically, fake charities will send an e-mail or call you directly to ask for a donation. No matter what — don't give them your information or any money. If you really want to donate go directly to the charity's website or you can check out a charity by heading to Give.org.
No matter the scam, you don't have to be a victim — just stay informed.
"Do a quick search, keep updated, update your devices and chances are you're going to be fine," says Siciliano.