Do you know that personal identity theft and fraud increase during the holidays?
Identity thieves hope you’ll be distracted by the excitement of the season. Practice extra vigilance to outsmart them and enjoy your holidays.
Be extra vigilant about phishing.
Phishing email attacks spike from October through December. Stay on guard and don’t click anything suspicious. Be especially careful with emails appearing to come from your technology companies, banks and payment processors. Phishing emails frequently disguise themselves under these 10 brands: Microsoft, PayPal, Facebook, Netflix, Bank of America, Apple, CIBC, Amazon, DHL, and Docusign.
Shop at stores and websites you trust.
During the holidays, a lot of fake (but real looking) online stores pop up. They usually offer too-good-to-be-true prices or hard-to-find trendy gifts. These deals are no bargain if they lead to credit card and identity theft. Shop with credit cards instead of debit cards, because consumer protection laws limit your liability better with credit cards.
Do not use public WiFi or charging stations.
With so many holiday travelers and shoppers, identity thieves may try to access your devices while you are in public spaces. Do not use WiFi that is not password protected on your laptop or your mobile devices. Don’t trust public USB charging stations—hackers may download your data while you juice your phone.
Be on guard for fake charity scams.
Most people like to be a little extra generous around the holidays, and scammers take maximum advantage. Give to charities you know and trust. Before donating to a new charity, research to make sure it is well-managed and legit.
If you’re leaving town, don’t advertise it.
An empty house can be an invitation for thieves to steal your possessions—and your identity. Key pieces of identity information can be in your trash and your mail. Don’t post travel plans or photos on social media. Arrange for your mail to be held at the post office, put newspaper deliveries on hold, and make sure to arrange for a neighbor or friend to pick up any packages that arrive.
Sources: CyberScout, ”Holiday ID Fraud Report,” Jumio, December 2018.
“Cybersecurity Warning: Top-10 Brands Used To Attack Millions With Phishing Campaigns Revealed,” Zak Doffman, Forbes, August 25, 2019