The Cyber-Grinches Who Steal On Christmas
’Tis the season to be scamming; the holidays and the end of the year are for many of us our favorite season and a time to spend with loved ones. We attend holiday parties, reconnect with one another, and find each other the perfect gifts. Many of us let our guard down as the end of the year draws near, especially when we’re shopping online, whether that be Cyber Monday or just the general online holiday specials that run through the season. But it is Christmas time for another group of people as well, the cyber-Grinches of the online world who use this time to prey on vulnerable shoppers. While it may be a festive time to celebrate, it might also be a good idea to not completely let your guard down. Join us as the Interfor team covers what to guard against online this holiday season and follow these simple online shopping fraud prevention tips.
Not just for shoppers
Aside from the greater traffic of online shoppers, and the more relaxed attitude that creates a favorable environment for hackers, businesses need to remain vigilant as well. What could lead to further hacking opportunities this holiday season within businesses are understaffed IT departments, as it’s a likely time for staff to take vacations. The amount of people traveling could also lead to more phishing emails targeting work emails. We all know that there is still pressure to check work emails while on vacation, yet we may not be focused enough to spot phishing attempts. Whether you’re shopping, traveling, or staying at home you should consider the following prevention tips:
Use reliable payment methods
With projections of over 7 billion dollars in online sales this season most Americans are shopping online and using a variety of payments methods (debit cards, credit cards, and online payment services such as PayPal). Using credit cards is a good way to safeguard against fraud as credit cards don’t pull the funds immediately (as opposed to debit cards) and tend to have more safety measures in place. If possible, using payment methods like Paypal and Venmo also creates a strong paper trail of any transaction.
Phishing circa 2018 has become more sophisticated as have criminals’ techniques to lure unsuspecting shoppers to volunteer valuable information. The hackers know how much money there is to be made (or stolen) during the holidays and they’ll spoof online stores’ emails when emailing you. So if something smells phishy it could be something rotten. As in the physical world, common sense online goes a long way in avoiding being a victim of this kind of cyber crime such as clicking on a link sent by a spammer pretending to be from a known website (ex., PayPal) that asks you to put in your login information.
Don’t give up your information too easily
Personal data protection is a challenge we’re facing more broadly in society as it’s not just the large tech companies who are trying to gather as much data about us as possible. Almost every company is attempting to gather information about us, and as consumers we are even quicker to share our private data in the name of a sale or discount. While we have the tendency to overshare, one should think twice before sharing their information online, as unscrupulous individuals looking to sell or exploit that information abound. Sharing information and transparency is part of our online shopping culture, just be aware of what you’re sharing and with what websites.
There is no reason to be a victim of an online shopping fraud this holiday season. You are in control of what happens if you take proactive steps to safeguard yourself and follow the prevention tips above. It’s always a good idea to be aware of what is happening around you as you shop for the latest deals. Following the steps above will help you feel more confident when shopping for your loved ones. If you need any additional guidance in this area, whether online or in real life, the team at Interfor is here for you this holiday season.