Practicing good cybersecurity hygiene, exercising caution, and being aware of common cyber scams can help protect you and your loved ones this upcoming holiday season.
Cyber scammers are always on the prowl, but it pays to be especially vigilant this time of year. According to Experian, one in four Americans—or 24%—reported that they fell victim to fraud during the holidays.1 And a surge in online shopping throughout the pandemic helped open the door to the rising wave of cyber fraud. Also, people are often distracted during the holidays as they seek the next great bargain, which can make them more vulnerable. According to the World Economic Forum, 95% of cybersecurity incidents can be traced back to human error.2 Practicing good cybersecurity hygiene, exercising caution, and being aware of common schemes can help keep cyber scammers and fraudsters at bay.
While fraudsters will try almost anything—from impersonating a bank representative to making threatening calls about past-due taxes to the IRS—the holiday shopping season is a peak period for various cyber scams:
Be sure you know who you’re buying from or selling to when shopping online. Ensure a website isn’t fraudulent by checking each website’s URL to make sure it’s legitimate and secure; a site you’re buying from should have https in the web address. If it doesn’t, don’t enter your information. Protecting your identity means using secure passwords and setting alerts on your credit reports. Lastly, to avoid the perils of fake holiday e-cards and other email scams, never click on links unless you’re 100% sure the sender is legitimate.
If you do fall victim to a cyber scam, take decisive steps, like contacting your financial institution and disputing the charges.
Never take things at face value, especially when receiving communications from people you don’t know. Scammers want to trick and deceive you out of information and money. Email addresses, phone numbers, videos, and even your voice can be spoofed. Moreover, Trust But Verify is no longer sufficient in today’s world of rising cybercrime. The better motto is Never Trust, Always Verify.
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