With the holiday season upon us, e-cards are a popular way to spread holiday cheer! An e-card is a digital greeting card, typically sent via email.

E-cards are slowly taking the place of traditional holiday cards for many reasons. They are  typically cheaper, easier to send, more convenient and more animated than a normal card.

Unfortunately, scammers have created email phishing scam tactics to stifle a holiday card’s innocent joy. What may seem to be a cheerful e-card may be a method to steal your personal information and hack into your devices.

Is it worth the risk of opening a holiday e-card? Yes, but you must be cautious! Here’s how you can avoid an e-card scam this holiday season.

Is It Safe to Open An E-Card?

While most of the time e-cards are seemingly harmless, there are steps you can take to help ensure your personal information stays safe. First, check the sender’s address. If the email address is unfamiliar, then it could be an e-card scam.

Second, avoid clicking on any links or downloads. They could lead to downloading viruses and exposing personal data. You can also go online and research the e-card company before opening the card itself. Doing this allows you to see if the company is legit and if any recent scams have been associated with the digital card.

How Does a Holiday E-Card Scam Work?

This phishing scam sends recipients fraudulent links or malware downloads posing as a greeting card. Most of the time, this email is sent from an unknown source. However, if the e-card is opened and links are clicked, scammers can infect your device with unwanted software and viruses. Plus, scammers can gain access to personal information.

Common Signs of Holiday E-Card Scam

A digital greeting card  might come into your inbox with a very elusive subject line. For example, the subject line might read “Someone you know sent you an e-card.” Immediately, this might be a sign of a phishing tactic.

E-cards should say who sent it with the name or address in the subject line. It’s best to delete the email immediately rather than opening the email link and becoming a possible victim. This email may also contain spelling and grammar errors. If this email is informal or incorrect in any way, it is best to avoid opening.

Emails with a file attached (.exe), should never be opened. Downloading this file allows scammers to put malware on your device, running the risk of your personal information being stolen. Scammers can mimic information, logos or even email addresses quite easily. So never assume any email with a Hallmark or greeting email address is legitimate.

Be on the lookout for email addresses that do not align with the domain name on the email. This can be another sign of a phishing email.

What To Do If You Are a Victim of a Holiday E-Card Scam

If you think you may be a victim of an e-card scam, report it immediately. You can report it to the FBI IC3 or file a report with the FTC.

Next, clear out all browsers and tabs that have been opened on your device. Then, disconnect your device from the network, scan your device for any viruses or malware and delete or stop any automatic downloads. If you have any important files, consider backing them up immediately.

Also, consider investing in identity theft protection. A monitoring service such as IdentityIQ can help secure your personal information while providing anti-virus and VPN protection. Rest assured, you can recover from an e-card scam. However, to help avoid becoming a victim, follow our tips. For extra protection, consider signing up for an identity theft protection plan.