Kingston Police warn about seasonal shipping, social media, and travel deal scams

Photo by John Schnobrich.

With the ever-growing popularity of online shopping and online communications, Kingston Police are warning that residents should always have their guard up in the cyberworld. “Criminals will use any situation to their advantage,” said Kingston Police in a press release, “especially when it comes to annual holidays or seasonal events.”

Kingston Police have provided a few examples of commonly used seasonal and holiday scams, and what you can do to protect yourself.

Fake Shipping/Postal Notifications: End of the year holidays invite a greater likelihood of this common phishing attack, but this is a scam you must be cautious of all year long. Scammers send fake notifications that appear to come from postal service companies or even companies like Amazon, which has become a prolific target for shipping based scams. The emails include dangerous links that, if clicked, could install malware on your computer or take you to a fake login page where your credentials will be stolen.

What you can do:

To check the legitimacy of these types of claims, always log in to your online account or service through your browser–not through links in unexpected emails. If you receive an email for an item that you did not purchase do not clink any links contained in the email.

Travel Deals and Offers: Scammers know that their potential victims travel for holidays throughout the year, albeit not recently due to COVID-19. Cybercriminals send emails offering fake travel deals from well-known travel sites. They’re even known to create phony websites for cheap hotels and flights so they can rob you of your money. This type of scam is extremely relevant as travel restrictions eventually are lifted post pandemic and is still currently applicable for domestic flights and hotels as well as travel deals booked months or a year in advance.

What you can do:

When something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Never click on links in unexpected emails. Before booking through an unfamiliar service, do your research and ensure the company is legitimate.

Social Media Deals and Sales: All social media advertisements are not created equal. A “paid advertisement” may seem trustworthy, but be warned: Anyone can pay to put an ad on social media. During holidays and popular shopping seasons, fraudsters buy ads that offer deals for items that you’re more-than-likely interested in–considering social media ads target the buyer market. The ads typically contain phishing links that lead to fraudulent websites where they will steal your credit card data. Even if the malicious ad is reported and removed, the scammers typically only need one victim to fall for their trick to make it worth their investment.

What you can do:

Always hover over links and URLs before clicking to check whether the URL will take you to a dangerous or unexpected site. If a social media ad appears to be from a company you’re familiar with, check the company’s website instead of clicking on links from the ad.

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