Christmas is just around the corner and scammers and cybercrooks are more abundant than ever. Because this is the biggest shopping time of the year, scammers take advantage of this by bombarding you with spam emails, and malware. Now is the time to start taking some precautionary measures to prevent yourself from falling victim to any of the thousands of scams you will receive this time of year.
There are many ways that cybercrooks will try to get your money, one of the most popular being through email scams, also known as phishing. 90% of emails that are sent each year are either spam or some sort of virus. The best practice against this is to make sure you don’t click on anything you feel is suspicious or just seems somewhat out of the ordinary. If you get an email claiming that you have an unclaimed fortune from your twice removed uncle from Texas, you can pretty much guarantee yourself that it’s a scam. If you receive an email from someone that you know but it seems suspicious, contact the person to see if they sent you the email and confirm that it is safe. A big email scam that is happening this holiday season is fake order confirmation emails. These emails pose as order confirmations and ask you to click on a link which then infects your computer with a nasty virus that collects usernames and passwords for your email and other credentials on your computer (more on this can be found here) and it also installs a program that will scan websites you visit for vulnerabilities.
When it comes to online shopping, a few things you can do to ensure that you are in fact secure while shopping online is (1) to shop on popular online stores like Amazon, BestBuy, Newegg, etc. (2) check to make sure the address for the checkout starts with https, and not just http. Something else to watch for is pop ups. If the website you’re considering buying from has pop up ads when you click on parts of the website this might indicate that it could be a scam website. Carefully review your credit card and bank statements over the coming months to identify any potentially fraudulent charges and notify your financial institution right away if there is any suspicious activity. Note that most financial institutions have timelines which must be adhered to in order to resolve fraudulent card activity.
There is no sure fire way to make sure you are secure. It seems that the bad guys are always a step ahead of everyone else and they stop at nothing to try and find a way to exploit the public. If you practice these fairly practical and easy steps, you will have taken a huge leap towards securing yourself this Christmas shopping season.