It’s the holiday season for the bad guys too! But not the way you might think. During the holidays, fraudsters go into scam-overdrive mode. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the busiest online shopping days, for both shoppers and fraudsters. Here are our top holiday cybersecurity tips to keep your money and identity safe this holiday season:
- Keep all your devices up to date – Make sure your devices are up-to-date with basic security measures to lessen your chance of becoming a victim of fraud.
- Only connect to known WiFi networks – Beware of WiFi network names that have typos, extra characters, or no password protection.
- Use strong and unique passwords on all your online accounts – Don’t use the same password on more than one account. This is a good time to update your passwords.
- Be safe on social media – Don’t overshare info and review your privacy settings on the platforms you use.
- Check your statements and credit regularly – Amongst a frenzy of holiday shopping, it can be easy to miss a stray transaction. Look over all your transactions so that you can spot any that may look unfamiliar, no matter how small the amount. This can help stop what could otherwise be long-term fraud.
- Be careful of messages regarding shipping changes – Go to your official trusted retailer website to track shipping instead of clicking a link in an unexpected email.
- Watch out for holiday greeting cards – They may not be from the sender you think. Don’t open these unless you’re certain you can trust them.
- Keep devices in view – Or, at least know where they are throughout the course of any holiday travel.
- Only visit and shop on websites and apps you know and trust – It may cost a little more but it is worth it. Many tricky fraudulent websites and apps come online during the busy retail periods offering massively discounted items.
- Don’t believe all offers – Be wary of “too good to be true” ads, giveaways, and contests. Phishing emails run rampant during the holiday season enticing you to click on links or attachments that harvest personal details or install malware.
- Value personal data too – Criminals often target your personal data, not just your payment info. Holiday websites often ask you to fill out surveys or forms in exchange for holiday discounts. Remain vigilant of what data you are providing, to whom, and for what purpose.
- Stay “in bounds” – Criminals want to take communications with you “out of bounds” to strip away any protection that sales platforms offer. For example, on eBay, don’t accept the invitation of bidding “out of the platform” by email or SMS. It can be tempting to avoid commissions taken by some platforms, but it is worth saving a few pennies compared to potentially losing a lot more to a fraudulent transaction.
As always, it’s worth remembering the old adage that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.