Most people are very busy between Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year holidays. In this busy time, it is easy to let your guard down, or click on the wrong thing. Fraudsters know this and also step up their efforts to steal your personal and credit card information.
I will get right to it. Here are a few easy tips to make sure you stay safe online during the Holiday season..
Updated Anti-virus software
The first and most important thing should do is make sure your security on your computer and smartphone is up to date. This includes your anti-virus software and latest browser updates. You do have these right? At work, I have Norton from Symantec. For personal use, I use McAfee. It has a multi-device plan that works for my household that has 2 workstations, 2 laptops, and 4 smartphones.
Text Messages There are multiple variations trending right now. Scammers are looking to gain personal information by posing as your bank, followed by a phone call. The shipping scam (below) is delivered by text and email. The text can appear urgent prompting you to respond. Avoid this by calling your bank directly. Do not give any personal information to an unexpected call like this.
Quick Facts: Text Message Scams.
Verify your Purchase email – Reputable Online Retailers don’t ask you to verify your purchase, or request user-ID’s and passwords via email. Any email like that should be viewed with great suspicion. If you think you need to follow up, go directly to the retailer’s website. Do not click on the link in the email
Charity emails and pop ups. If you want to donate, go directly to the site yourself. Make sure it is a well-established organization.
Package Delivery Confirmation – emails that ask you to click here, and sign in to confirm a package are probably an attempt to steal your information. USPS, UPS, and FedEx do not operate that way.
Just Say No to downloading – Anything. Greeting cards, “fun” programs, that require a download are a path to infection viruses and malware.
Public Wi-Fi Alert – Before logging on to a Wi-Fi connection in any public place, confirm with an employee the exact name of their network and how you login. Hackers can spoof public hotspots by putting up a similar named network, capturing valuable information such as user ID’s Passwords, etc.
Stay with Established Retailers if you can
It is best to shop with established retailers. Sometimes there are niche items that cannot be found elsewhere. So if you must use a new site, these browser tips will help you stay a little safer:
- Secure Protocol – When entering user ID and passwords, personal
information, and payment, make sure that you see the Secure protocol in the URL https.
- Review the Security Report – Click on the lock – it is left of the URL in Chrome and Firefox. It is on the right in Internet Explorer. Your browser will warn you if there is an issue with the certificate.
Online shopping is a fact of life, and for many there is no avoiding it. If you take a couple of extra minutes here and there, you reduce your risk substantially. Scammers are stepping up their game. Don’t be a victim.’
Your turn – are you seeing any scam attempts?
Better Business Bureau – Fake confirmation emails trick holiday shoppers.
United States Department of Homeland Security – Computer Emergency Response Team: Security Tip – Understanding Web Site Certificates