Experts: ID Thieves Always Looking For Ways To Infiltrate Your Computer, Phone

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The holidays can bring out the best in people, but consumer advocates warn they are also bringing out the worst — from charity scams to bogus holiday e-mails phishing for your personal information.

CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson has what you need to know to avoid some of the biggest scams of this season.

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With all the giving and receiving, it’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. But consumer advocates warn not everyone is sharing in this good cheer.

“It’s the holidays, we’re all shopping, we’re all trying to find deals, we’re all in a rush. Those are the types of things scammers take advantage of,” said Claire Rosenzweig, President of the Better Business Bureau.

And one of the biggest ways they’re taking advantage this holiday season is through text messaging.

Millions of Target shoppers became the target of these text scam artists last week when they received this message saying they’d won a $1,000 gift card. As you probably guessed, it was all just a scheme to steal their personal information.

“You click on it, it could introduce malware onto your phone and it could send a text to everyone you know,” Rosenzweig said.

Another big scam this season is phony e-mails from retailers or delivery services like UPS or FedEx claiming to have a package for you.

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“There’s a problem with your order or we’re confirming this order, which of course, makes a lot of shoppers nervous,” said Kelli Grant of Smart Money Magazine.

Click on the link provided and experts say your computer will be infected with a virus — or spyware.

And that’s not all; consumer advocates say watch out for a rise in malicious mobile apps, phony e-tailers that disappear shortly after the holidays, and bogus gift cards sold online.

“Check the back of the gift card to make sure the confirmation, the pin number has not been scratched off because if it has, somebody may have gone and drained the balance,” Grant said.

Finally, experts say be wary of gifts that claim to give back — but very little of the proceeds actually go to the charity.

“You want to know how much is going, who it’s going to and the duration of the campaign, and the maximum amount of the money they will give,” Rosenzweig said.

Dangerous e-cards are always a holiday scam artist favorite. Click on the link to view the greeting and your computer can become infected with a virus.

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