Artificial intelligence currently stands as one of the most significant topics in recent months, and it seems destined to play a major role in a long-standing holiday trend that everyone should watch closely this season. Cybercriminals are escalating their phishing campaigns during the holidays, frequently sending emails and text messages with malicious links and attachments to steal personal information and money.

The holidays prove highly profitable for cybercriminals, as the FBI recently reported losses exceeding $73 million due to shopping scams in 2022. A vigilant eye may detect many of these phishing messages, but artificial intelligence is aiding these malicious actors in refining their campaigns. Holiday shoppers must be aware of this threat as the holiday season intensifies.


AI Phishing Emails: Supercharging Cybercriminals’ Scams Ahead of Holidays

Cybercriminals are continuously generating phishing messages, and the emergence of artificial intelligence has enabled them to do so at an unprecedented rate. A study by SlashNext credits AI for the 1,256% surge in phishing email scams in 2023.

The holiday season presents an opportune time for cybercriminals to intensify their efforts. Numerous shoppers seeking deals become targets. These malicious actors send phishing emails and text messages, posing as retailers offering nonexistent sales or claiming issues with previous orders.

These messages often include links or attachments, leading to the download of harmful malware for stealing personal information, or redirecting to fake websites where victims unknowingly surrender valuable data. Previously, certain red flags could signal a phishing message, such as misspellings, poor grammar, or inconsistent tone compared to legitimate messages from the same sender.

Here, artificial intelligence plays a crucial role. By leveraging various AI tools, cybercriminals can eliminate these grammatical errors, creating emails that appear far more authentic than before.  If a cybercriminal crafts an email that both looks and reads legitimately, it becomes much harder for shoppers to discern scams. Fortunately, there are still actions to take to avoid falling prey to these sophisticated phishing attacks.


What You Should Do When Possibly Facing an AI Phishing Email

Even amidst AI-generated phishing scams, you can still protect yourself:

  • Offered a Sale? Check the Website: If you receive an email promoting a sale, avoid clicking any links in the message. Instead, visit the retailer’s official website to verify the sale.
  • Double Check the Sender: Always scrutinize the sender’s email address. If it seems suspicious, do not interact with the message. Delete any text messages from unrecognized numbers.
  • Contact Customer Service: If you have doubts about a discount or an order issue, visit the retailer’s website to contact customer service. Do NOT call numbers provided in emails or text messages, as they could connect you to a scammer. 


Remember, no legitimate entity will request personal information or money to fix an issue. Messages demanding login details to address a gift order problem are scams.

Cybercriminals are advancing their tactics, but you don’t have to be their victim. By taking an extra step to verify the legitimacy of messages in your inbox, you can save yourself from holiday season troubles, distinguishing genuine messages from deceptive ones.


To learn more about recent news and trends in cybersecurity, review the BlackCloak personal cybersecurity blog.