As we enter this exciting time it is always good to remember, Cyber thieves love the holidays and online shoppers.
Therefore it is a good time to remember that websites can be compromised or even spoofed. Phishing and vishing scams, fake shipping notifications, and fake holiday contests are already out and looking for your information.
With these Holiday season threats upon us, we need to remember two important lessons in life:
- Your personal information is not as personal as you think.
- and, Cyber thieves do not take off during the holidays.
Now is the time to review your cyber and identity theft risks.
That said, I have listed below our top 5 personal privacy tips and top 5 online shopping tips to help reduce your risk of identity theft and fraud:
Top 5 Personal Privacy Tips
- Security software – regularly update the security software (anti-virus, firewall, and anti-malware) on your devices.
- Password management – always create complex passwords using a combination of mixed-case letters, numbers, punctuation, and symbols with a minimum of 20 characters – typically an easy-to-remember sentence.
- Privacy settings – (Understand how your information is stored and used) Read the privacy settings of the apps and social media sites you frequent.
- Use multi-factor authentication – provide additional information, beyond a login or password.
- E-mails and attachments – do not open e-mails and attachments from individuals or organizations that you do not know and trust to reduce your exposure.
Top 5 Online Shopping Tips
- Do business with companies you know and trust
And use a credit card instead of a debit card or checking account, as your credit card is protected under the Fair Credit Billing Act.
- Fake website domains can fool you
Be careful that you are on the correct website for the retailer you are trying to shop at. Beware of “domain squatting” sites with an added hyphen, or misspelled or incorrect URL.
- Phishing and vishing scams
Pay attention to e-mails from financial institutions, the Internal Revenue Service, and retail businesses asking for personal information. No credible company or government agency will ask for your personal information via e-mail and/or phone calls.
- Fake shipping notifications
Fraudsters send phishing emails with links that could allow unwanted access to your private information or download malware onto your device.
- Holiday contests
Holiday contests are a great way for retailers to support branding and marketing. Fake contests are a great way for fraudsters to collect your personal information and install malware.
In short, Think before your click and if it is too good to be true, it probably is.
Most Importantly, Cyber Thieves Love the Holidays, but you can continue to love the holidays too.
By Mark Pribish, ID Theft Practice Leader