How Scammers May Try to Trick You This Halloween

How Scammers May Try to Trick You This Halloween

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Halloween is the second-largest commercial holiday in America. With all that money up for grabs–not to mention so many people wearing masks–it’s a prime opportunity for scammers.

Criminals are always looking for new ways to trick us. They’ll use the holiday as well as the unique circumstances of the pandemic to exploit uncertainty. While not exhaustive, we’ve put together a list of some of the most likely scams you’ll encounter as the clock ticks down to Halloween.

Shopping Deals

As ever, be cautious when clicking an unknown link. Halloween shopping scams follow the same basic template. You see an ad on social media or get an email about a great deal on a costume or decorations. They might appeal to your wallet by offering prices far cheaper than you can find anywhere else. Alternately, the message might focus on last-minute shopping with the promise of free or expedited shipping.

More sophisticated scammers might even make it look like the message is from a reputable business. They may ask you to enter personal information to create an account or simply allow you to complete a transaction they have no intention of ever honoring. Either way, you’ve been hoodwinked by one of the oldest tricks in the book.

Free Offers

Another tricky scam around the holidays involves offering free downloads. It might be a craft pattern or activity sheet for kids, or perhaps a coupon for a seasonal treat like a pumpkin spice latte. The offer shows up in your email or as a text message, and tempted by the offer of a freebie, you click.

Scammers and hackers use this technique to deliver harmful software to your phone or computer. Once you click the link to download the free printout or coupon, you actually give the scammer permission to download malware.

This can range from a simple tracking program to software that allows the criminals to take over your computer remotely–accessing all your files and, potentially, your webcam too.

Pirating can be a problem, too, as people try to watch Halloween content without paying for it. If you have a hunger for watching your favorite horror movie but can’t find it on a reputable streaming site, beware of pirate sites. They will often ask you to enter personal credentials or download a piece of software. Downloads from dodgy sources are never okay. These sites are designed to scam you–not entertain you.