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OSI spreads public awareness of holiday scams

  • Published
  • 27th Special Operations Public Affairs

The U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations put out a public notice of various scams associated with the holiday season to watch out for this December 2016.

The bulletin states to be aware of scams incorporated into online, e-mail, social media, phone and work device use.

According to the notice, online scams are usually centered on gaining personal information such as banking accounts and addresses. This is generally done under the guise of an unusually discounted brand name product, banking scams, and false tracking numbers. Cyber criminals may ask the user to pay for goods in unusual ways such as gift cards or the release of their bank information.

Users may also receive phishing e-mails drafted to look like bank inquiries or tracking numbers from package delivery companies. Online charity scams also spike during the holiday season by representing false charities in the purist of money or banking information scams.

Social media scams can take the appearance of gift card or voucher links on popular social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook. Users should also be wary of posting photos of event tickets, as criminals can use the barcodes to recreate those tickets for resale.

Furthermore, employment scams are prevalent during this season and often promote quick ways to earn cash, and have employees spend money up front for training or “start-up kits.” These may also be advertised as work-from-home positions.

To mitigate vulnerability to these scams, OSI preaches situational awareness as the best form of security. Avoid clicking and opening unsolicited emails from unknown senders. When receiving tracking numbers, check the original shipper or vendor to ensure it is not a fraudulent tracking number. Make sure to regularly check bank and credit card accounts and only buy merchandise from a reputable source.

Additional information concerning phishing and social engineering scams can be found at