Residential crime tends to spike over the holidays, but there is also the issue of cyber security. Identify theft, phony charities, and other potential pitfalls of our increasingly digital lives are on the rise.
Cyber Monday is expected to be the busiest online shopping day of the season as retailers roll out outrageous deals. But be warned: scammers and hackers are gearing up for Cyber Monday as well. It may even be one of the most dangerous days of the year regarding identity theft. Here are a few tips on how to keep your information safe.
1. Keep an eye out for scams.
While it’s true that scammers run their “phishing” attacks all year long, the level of risk increases as soon as the holiday shopping season starts. Since you’re expecting to get emails about great deals from companies you’ve bought from before, you may be more inclined to click on many different promotional emails. But beware: one of those emails could have been sent by a scammer. It may contain a link that sends you to a phony site, enticing you to reveal sensitive information. Or, maybe you’ll accidentally download nasty malware to your computer. Always be cautious of any emails you receive from unknown recipients or that seem just a bit too generous.
2. Avoid public WiFi.
Avoid making online purchases using WiFi in a public space like an airport, hotel, or coffee shop. Home networks are a bit safer, assuming you have good security on your connection. But even then, you are not entirely safe. If you live in a high-density area where many of your neighbors can pick up your wireless network, you could still be at risk. If one of your neighbors happens to be a skilled hacker who can get past your security, you’re vulnerable. So, make sure you stay alert during online shopping sprees.
3. Search for signs of credibility.
Trust marks, such as the Norton Secured seal, show that the retailer has been verified, and the site is likely free of malware. Also, look for the beginning of the URL in the address bar to change from “http” to “https.” The “s” stands for secure and shows that you are on a secure site. Always look for either of these before entering your personal information when online shopping.
4. Be smart about your password and personal information.
When holiday shopping for the first time on a particular website, you may be asked to register and create a user name as well as a password. When doing the latter, remember: “password” is not an acceptable password. Pay particular attention to the passwords for your email, social networking and online banking accounts, making them as complex and unique as you can. Also, avoid storing your credit card information on retailer websites.
You would be amazed how many people use “password” as the password for an online identity – or just a simple variation of their name. You need to be smarter than the cyber thieves! Use caps and lowercase as well as numbers and special characters. Many websites require this anyway!
5. Be secure on mobile devices, too.
Threats on mobile devices are on the rise and becoming increasingly sophisticated. Avoid tapping on any links you receive via text message. Also, continue to be mindful while shopping on your phone and on mobile apps. All of the same rules apply…especially if you’re out and about near potential scammers. Your phone contains a lot of information about you, so be very careful!
Frontpoint cares about your physical safety and your virtual security – these tips and other safety precautions will add up to more peace of mind for you. Protecting homes and families is our highest priority. Don’t let scammers ruin this joyous season! Here’s to safe online shopping – and Happy Holidays!