Phishing scams abound during the holiday season.
‘Tis the season to spend masses of money online, and Cyber Monday marks the start of the shopping frenzy. Although most of us like to think we’re savvy enough to avoid phishing scams, that’s not necessarily the case. A recent article in the online Credit Union Times states, “Forty percent of U.S. consumers fall victim to online phishing attacks, despite 91 percent being aware of the existence of spoofed websites or emails of trusted brands, according to a new report.”
Hackers do not go on vacation over the holiday season. In fact, that’s when they do some of their most extensive work. It’s therefore critical that you become more vigilant than ever at this time of year if you plan to hold on to your identity and hard-earned cash. Being aware of possible phishing scams will pay off!
Here are a few tips to help ensure your safety:
- Confine your shopping to websites that you know and trust. If an item you want is available on the Nordstrom site, don’t buy it from a place with a name like GetCheapStuffHere.com in an attempt to save a few bucks.
- Don’t click on the links in emails or pop-up coupons. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it’s probably bogus. Instead, go directly to the merchant’s website to see if the offer is there.
- Social media is a great place for scammers to wreak havoc. “Fabulous” holiday deals will be offered on places like Facebook and Twitter, and they might look like they’re coming from a friend—a friend who’s been hacked, that is.
- Use credit cards or PayPal when making online purchases—not your debit card. In the wrong hands, your debit card makes it super simple for someone to empty your checking account.
- Don’t shop over public Wi-Fi. Everyone using it has the password, making it easy for the bad guys to intercept your personal information.
- Be wary of QR codes. Scan the wrong one from your smart phone and you might end up at a malware site. Scammers are printing their own QR stickers and slapping them on top of legitimate code, and they’re not taking you to nice places.
- Keep your security software updated. While you’re at it, install an anti-malware program and an ad blocker.
- Tap into the technology of a digital wallet. It’s a great way to keep your credit card information private.
- Check your bank statements on a regular basis. If you see any transactions you didn’t make, notify your financial institution immediately.