How to avoid cyber Scrooges stealing your holidays

If you use a Motorola Droid Razr to shop this Christmas, watch out for cyber crooks. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Kathy Stewart,

WASHINGTON – Cyber criminals will be working overtime to get a cut of the expected $466 billion in retail sales and all the cash folks will be spending to travel this holiday.

So, what types of scams will be hot this year? has gathered a list of the top 12 scams.

Topping the list is mobile malware. Given that more than half of smartphone users say they plan to use their phones to shop this season, computer security firm, McAfee, warns that crooks will be using both mobile malware and malicious apps to steal your cash.

McAfee notes iPhone users probably don’t have as much to worry about as Android owners, especially those using their phones for purchases or to scan QR codes.

Here are McAfee’s 12 scams of Christmas:

  1. Mobile Malware – This mainly affects Android devices and may include malicious QR codes.
  2. Malicious Mobile Application – Some holiday shopping apps could be used to transmit your data.
  3. Phony Facebook Promotions and Contests – Scammers can take your personal information when you fill out the “entry form.”
  4. Scareware – Choose antivirus software carefully. You could be buying phony software.
  5. Holiday Screensavers – They’re great to get you in the holiday spirit, but they could come bearing malware. Same goes for fake e-cards.
  6. Mac Malware – Mac owners are not immune. McAfee reported finding 5,000 pieces of Mac-targeting malware as of late 2010.
  7. Holiday Phishing Scams – Watch out for phony letters from UPS or your bank asking for personal data.
  8. Online Coupon Scams – Choose carefully and use reputable sites.
  9. Mystery Shopper Scams – Watch out for mystery shopper offers asking for personal information.
  10. Hotel “Wrong Transaction” Malware Emails – Be wary of an email from a “hotel,” asking for personal information to correct an alleged “wrong transaction.”
  11. “It” Gift Scams – Watch out for the holiday’s hottest toy offered at a discount, in exchange for your personal information.
  12. “I’m Away From Home” Scammers – Put a lid on the Facebook sharing and Tweeting if you’re going out of town this holiday season. There’s no need to broadcast your travel plans.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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