St. Patrick's Day Parade
of Online Scams

As holidays go, St. Patrick's Day is usually pretty stress-free. There's no last-minute gift shopping, no obligatory chocolates and roses—all you have to do is wear green if you want to and maybe watch a parade. You may notice a few online offers and emails adorned with four-leaf clovers around this holiday—but before you click, be sure those links don't lead to a dose of unlucky malware.

Cybercrooks and scammers will always take advantage of holidays in order to spread malware and try to separate people from their money. St. Patrick's Day is no different. Here are a few scams we've seen over the past few years:

Poisoned search links. If you go searching for St. Patrick's Day-themed screensavers or wallpaper, be prepared to find a whole lot of scareware and malware amongst the sites that actually hawk digital decorations. In this scam, hackers create multiple pages that are designed to show up at the top of certain Google search results. Google does a decent job at identifying sites that could harm your computer, but it doesn't point out all of them - so you might click on a top-ranked site and end up with fake antivirus software on your machine instead of a charming shamrock background.

Fake survey and reward scams. Who wouldn't want to take a quick survey about St. Patrick's Day in exchange for a $250 gift card? You, that's who. Internet surveys promising riches in exchange for a few minutes of your time are almost always scams. The people who created the survey get to harvest your name, email address, and other personal information, and in exchange, you get nothing except an inbox full of spam. Don't fall for it.

Social media scams. The only thing hackers seem to love more than holidays are social media sites, where they can efficiently spread spam greetings and links to malware. A recent St. Patrick's Day scam focused on Farmville users, offering them free (and nonexistent) perks on the popular Facebook game.

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