The holiday season is not an occasion to spread cheer just for people who stay on the right side of the law, it is a great business opportunity for all kinds of fraudsters and scammers. As the lines for shopping grow longer, so do your chances of being scammed. This is particularly true of online shopping where people have thronged since the last few years. You face a significant amount of risk in searching for the best deals and may become more prone to cyber threats without even realizing it. Managed IT Services can help you manage risks from holiday scams.
People are aware of the increased risk. In the second annual International Fraud Awareness Week Report by Shred, 46% of Americans were found to believe their security habits to be inadequate, making them vulnerable to fraud. 51% said that they reused passwords and PINs for multiple accounts, and 21% shared their login details with friends and family members. These harmful security practices lead to increased risk of online banking fraud, unauthorized credit card transactions, and more. IT Support Provider can help you implement and update effective password management systems.
Many people are also subject to the empty gift card scam. An AARP survey found that more than 70% of Americans planned to buy gift cards for family and friends, but as many as 1 in 5 reported receiving empty gift cards. This is because scammers are now targeting cards on display in retail stores. They contrive to get the account number and PIN and immediately drain the balance whenever the card is activated. Online auction sites too are infamous for delivering stolen or fake gift cards. Fraudulent charities are also on the rise as people typically tend to take care of all donations and charities during this season or in the wake of disasters such as a pandemic. In order to stay safe while donating, you should check out the list of legitimate charities at CharityNavigator.org, Give.org, CharityWatch.org, or GuideStar.org. Crowdfunding should only be done for people you know or those who have legitimate references.
Top Fraud Prevention Tips During The Holidays:
Always use a secure browser when shopping
Using a reliable, updated and secure browser is one of the most basic, yet effective steps you can take to secure your information online while shopping. Most smartphones and internet security platforms now bundle reputed browsers as part of their package.
Maintain good password hygiene
Keeping track of all your passwords can be challenging for users. Who is simply used to many applications on websites today to be able to remember them all. This is why it’s advisable to use a reliable password manager (not the ones in-built into your browser) in order to effectively manage passwords while maintaining uniqueness. This is particularly important to protect all of your critical information including personally identifiable information, financial information, and more.
Beware of Empty gift cards
As already outlined above, you should always be extra careful when buying gift cards. You could try to avoid buying from physical stores altogether and only buy from websites you trust. Or, if you are buying from a retail store, always pay attention to the sticker that covers the serial code of the gift card. Many scammers simply remove the stickers, copy out the information and then buy some more stickers to replace the old ones and make the gift card look intact. When an unsuspecting victim buys the same card, the scammer gets notified whenever the card is activated and immediately clears out the card’s balance.
Always take a second to verify genuine websites
This seems like a basic step to ensure online safety and privacy, but one that many tend to ignore completely. Always look for the green https:// addition to the website’s address which indicates that it is a safe site for you to navigate. If you see something on the site that seems suspicious, such as grammatical letters in the body text, logos that seem like a knockoff design, or other indications – always trust your gut and double check the website. You should also make it a point to check the site’s privacy policies in order to protect sensitive information. Take a look at IT Consulting Services to know more.
Monitor your credit card and bank accounts closely
Given the flurry of fraudulent activity in financial transactions these days, it should become second nature for consumers to always keep a close watch on all credit card and bank transactions. You should make it a point to report any abnormal activity that you can spot on the account.
Make use of the email or text alert feature with your credit card company
Most credit card companies offer free email or text alerts. You should make use of this feature by activating it so you can be immediately alerted in case of any unauthorized transactions. This reduces the time gap between the actual transaction and the steps necessary to contact your issuer immediately and block the card immediately in case of unauthorized transactions.
Never share your critical info (financial or personal) over phone/ text/ email
There is a simple rule of thumb you can follow in order to protect your critical personal information. No matter what the emergency, you should never give out your personal information over the phone irrespective of who the caller claims to be or which organization they work with. You should only share such information when you have placed the call and you know the number to be genuine.
Always be wary of email links
Email containing anything from greeting card links, video links, attachments, e-vites etc. can serve as an entry point for a malicious program to take over your system. During the holiday season, it becomes extra difficult to pay attention to the sharp uptick in the number of attachments that people tend to receive in emails. The only way to stay safe from malicious links in emails is to only open attachments from senders you trust completely. Avoid clicking on links from unknown sources or senders. Be aware that even among trusted senders, their identities can be compromised, especially if the email looks suspicious to you.
For more cybersecurity tips that can protect you and your organization: View our on-demand webinar!