Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, Easter, or Thanksgiving, the bad guys are always out to ruin the holidays. With Mother’s Day approaching, consumers are expected to spend $20 billion on flower arrangements, jewelry, spa treatments, brunches, and other baubles to show their appreciation, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s an average of $163 per mom.
Shoppers will shell out more than $2 billion for flowers alone, and with so much at stake, con artists are trying to get in on the action. E-mails dangling fake vouchers and coupons for bouquets and floral arrangements (as well as jewelry and restaurant bargains) are common this time of year. Often, they’re nothing more than phishing expeditions. Phishing e-mails contain harmful links that lead to phony sites looking to steal personal and credit card information from unsuspecting consumers who are willing to share the details in exchange for promised discounts.
There are other forms of phising as well. If you receive a message that seems to be from a merchant you’ve done business with, saying there’s a problem with your order or that you need to verify billing information, don’t open any attachments or click on the link. Contact the company directly by telephone to ask about the veracity of the e-mail.
Apply the same scrutiny to electronic greeting cards, or e-cards. They’re as likely to contain destructive malware as warm wishes. Don’t open the card unless you recognize the name of the sender or that the name of the sender is in the body or the message. Another option: do a quick search of the site that generated the e-card to determine if it’s legitimate.