What color jersey will you be sporting this November and December? The World Cup is on its way to television screens around the world, and scores of fans are dreaming of cheering on their team at stadiums throughout Qatar. Meanwhile, cybercriminals are dreaming of stealing the personally identifiable information (PII) of fans seeking last-minute vacation and ticket deals.
Don’t let the threat of phishers and online scammers dampen your team spirit this World Cup tournament. Here are three common schemes cybercriminals will likely employ and a few tips to help you dribble around their clumsy offense and protect your identity, financial information, and digital privacy.
1. Fake Contests
Phishers will be out in full force attempting to capitalize on World Cup fever. People wrapped up in the excitement may jump on offers that any other time of the year they would treat with skepticism. For example, in years past, fake contests and travel deals inundated email inboxes across the world. Some companies do indeed run legitimate giveaways, and cybercriminals slip in their phishing attempts among them.
If you receive an email or text saying that you’re the winner of a ticket giveaway, think back: Did you even enter a contest? If not, treat any “winner” notification with skepticism. It’s very rare for a company to automatically enter people into a drawing. Usually, companies want you to act – subscribe to a newsletter or engage with a social media post, for example – in exchange for your entry into their contest. Also, beware of emails that urge you to respond within a few hours to “claim your prize.” While it’s true that real contest winners must reply promptly, organized companies will likely give you at least a day if not longer to acknowledge receipt.
2. Travel Scams
Traveling is rarely an inexpensive endeavor. Flights, hotels, rental cars, dining costs, and tourist attraction admission fees add up quickly. In the case of this year’s host country, Qatar, there’s an additional cost for American travelers: visas.
If you see package travel deals to the World Cup that seem too good to pass up … pass them up. Fake ads for ultra-cheap flights, hotels, and tickets may appear not only in your email inbox but also on your social media feed. Just because it’s an ad doesn’t mean it comes from a legitimate company. Legitimate travel companies will likely have professional-looking websites with clear graphics and clean website copy. Search for the name of the organization online and see what other people have to say about the company. If no search results appear or the website looks sloppy, proceed with caution or do not approach at all.
Regarding visas, be wary of anyone offering to help you apply for a visa. There are plenty of government-run websites that’ll walk you through the process, which isn’t difficult as long as you leave enough time for processing. Do not send your physical passport to anyone who is not a confirmed government official.
3. Malicious Streaming Sites
Even fans who’ve given up on watching World Cup matches in person aren’t out of the path of scams. Sites claiming to have crystal clear streams of every game could be malware spreaders in disguise. Malware and ransomware targeting home computers often lurk on sketchy sites. All it takes is a click on one bad link to let a cybercriminal or a virus into your device.
Your safest route to good-quality live game streams is through the official sites of your local broadcasting company or the official World Cup site. You may have to pay a fee, but in the grand scheme of things, that fee could be a lot less expensive than replacing or repairing an infected device.
Shore Up Your Defense With McAfee+
Here’s an excellent rule to follow with any electronic correspondence: Never send anyone your passwords, routing and account number, passport information, or Social Security Number. A legitimate organization will never ask for your password, and it’s best to communicate any sensitive financial or identifiable information over the phone, not email or text as they can easily fall into the wrong hands. Also, do not wire large sums of money to someone you just met online.
Don’t let scams ruin your enjoyment of this year’s World Cup! With these tips, you should be able to avoid the most common schemes but to boost your confidence in your online presence, consider signing up for McAfee+. Think of McAfee+ as the ultimate goalkeeper who’ll block any cybercriminals looking to score on you. With identity monitoring, credit lock, unlimited VPN and antivirus, and more, you can surf safely and with peace of mind.