56% Indians fall victim to online holiday scams: McAfee

New Delhi: With Christmas around the corner, cybersecurity firm McAfee on Tuesday revealed that 56.1 percent of Indians have fallen victim to discount scams by clicking on malicious links during holiday shopping online.

The year-end festivities present a variety of threats to consumers shopping online, with more than half (53.6 percent) Indians falling victim to scams resulting from deceiving apps, said McAfee’s ‘Christmas Scams Survey’.

At least one in four (28.6 percent) Indians have lost between Rs 15,000-Rs 20,000 as a result of fake online retail sites, while 78.6 percent experienced seasonal travel scams through unsolicited and malicious links.

While cybercriminal activity continues to grow in sophistication, popular scams like email phishing (25.3 percent) and text phishing (21.1 percent) still result in close to a quarter of Indians being duped throughout the season, said the survey.

“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,” said Venkat Krishnapur, Vice-President of Engineering and Managing Director, McAfee India.

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Throughout the festivities, 60.2 percent of people have fallen victim to robocalling and 57.1 percent through SIM-jacking.

A robocall is a phone call that uses a computerized autodialer to deliver a pre-recorded message, as if from a robot.

A new trend that hit unsavvy consumers hard this festive season was through phony gift cards.

Nearly 39.3 percent of Indians were directed to a site, where they were asked to input personal information such as name, telephone number or credit card information, with 40 percent losing between Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000.

Leveraging the emotional aspects of philanthropy and generosity, 60.7 percent were victims of fake charities, with scammers impersonating genuine trusts to ask for donations.

The survey revealed a staggering number (52.6 percent) between the age of 18 to 24 years faced the brunt of romance scams, and 60 percent millennials agree to being scammed by e-greetings.

“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,” advised Krishnapur.


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