Blog

Don’t get eScammed with a Holiday eCard

Winter scene on an eCard

Like anything new and clever, it doesn’t take long for someone else to exploit it. Holiday eCards sprang to life in the mid 90’s. As the internet grew and the cost of postage continued to increase, eCards made more and more sense. Unfortunately, this also opened the door to a new way for scammers to target you. Today, millions of eCards will be sent from legitimate sites like Blue Mountain and American Greetings. Unfortunately, millions of eCards will also be sent from undesirable sites with even more undesirable intentions.

Dangerous eCards are usually harmless when they just sit in your email inbox. It’s when they are opened that their full potential is unleashed, running scripts or embedding dangerous code or malware into your system, stealing your personal data and/or making your computer unusable.

Know the Signs

Like any other potentially dangerous email, you’ll want to pay attention to the warning signs. Rather than getting caught up in the excitement of the season hoping to read a cheery holiday greeting from an old acquaintance, take the Scrooge approach to any eCards you receive by applying these checks.

  • Is the name and Subject content spelled correctly?
  • Is everything on the Subject line grammatically correct?
  • Does the Subject line contain unusual characters or fonts?
  • Is it from someone you know?
  • Is the ‘From’ name a real, complete name?
eCards can be nice, or a scam

Open on Phone

If you determine that the eCard seems to pass the Scrooge test, you can then consider opening the eCard on your phone. A mobile device is far less likely to be susceptible to malware. Assuming you don’t have a flip phone from the 80’s, if the email does not display correctly your phone, that should be a red flag. Today’s content providers know that well over half of all emails are digested on a mobile device. To ignore this would be very unlikely for a legitimate provider.

Don’t Click, Hover Instead

If you decide to open that eCard, especially on your computer, be sure and hover above any links (hyperlinks) in the email. The link preview should reflect the true origin of the email source. For example, if your eCard came from bluemountain.com, then any links embedded into the email should also have a domain origin of bluemountain.com. If the links don’t match the source, don’t click it!

If It’s In Junk Mail, it’s Junk…Period

If you receive an eCard that ends up in your Junk folder, leave it there. No matter who it’s from or how enticing it looks, it’s not worth it. Legitimate eCards companies will know how to avoid having their eCards cast as junk. There are several specific markers that are checked to determine an email’s trustworthiness, and several tests a company can do to check them before they are sent. If this isn’t being done and the email ends up in the Junk folder, then just leave it there.

It’s Not Worth it In the End

Ultimately it’s just not worth the risk to open an eCard that doesn’t pass all the inspection criteria. At best, you’ll be inconvenienced, at worst, your identity and personal information could be compromised. If you get a phone call from your best friend as to why you never opened their eCard, not only have you managed to stay safe…you got them to call you too!

Stay Safe and have a Merry Christmas!