Don’t Get Taken On A (sleigh) Ride By Scammers
The holiday season is here again and, this year, most of us will be on the hunt for the perfect presents online. By keeping cybersecurity top of mind while you browse, you can prevent a scammer from having a happy holiday.
Stay ahead of Internet Scrooges
- Different presents for different family members & different passwords for different online accounts: Just like you shouldn’t buy the same gift for your entire family, you shouldn’t use the same password for all of your accounts. During the holiday season, many shoppers create accounts at each online store and tend to use the same password for each one. If a retailer’s website with your credentials is compromised, fraudsters can use automated tools to gain access to your personal information on other websites.
- Don't be put on the naughty list because of too-simple passwords: When it comes to passwords, having a basic password that can be easily guessed puts users at a higher risk to be compromised.
Try using a passphrase along with numbers and symbols instead of a single word: An example of a passphrase would be “M1lk@ndC00kie5” instead of a much simpler password “MilkAndCookies.” Change your passwords every three to six months in order to keep fraudsters guessing, and consider using a password manager to generate and store unique passwords.
- Keep your bank information safe from scamming Scrooges: While the option of storing your debit and credit card info online might seem like a time-saver, if a breach occurs on an account where your credit or debit card is stored, fraudsters could now have access to your money and banking information. Take that extra minute to enter your card info each time you make a purchase online.
Watch out for phishing scams this holiday season
Fraudsters will often take advantage of the holidays to tailor their phishing attempts to the season. Be on the lookout for:
- Fake invoices, shipping updates, and receipts: As we shop online, receipts, invoices, and shipping updates are sent to our inboxes. Fraudsters send fake copies of these emails, expecting the receivers to follow the links to track their shipment or open attachments that can install malicious software or gain access to personal information. Before you click on anything, ensure these emails are actually coming from the merchant or shipper you purchased from.
- Fake deals and flyers: During the holiday season, inboxes can get cluttered with advertising emails from online stores. Fraudsters send phishing emails with deals and sales that seem too good to be true expecting shoppers to be intrigued and click on links that end up installing malware, compromising their bank accounts, or buying products that don’t exist. A good tip to keep in mind: an email discount from a store you have shopped at before is usually real, but if you receive an email from a store you have never shopped at before, there is a possibility it is a scam.
- Fake charities: The most disheartening form of holiday scams are those mimicking charities. These scams urge recipients to donate as soon as possible, but the money goes straight into the fraudsters’ pocket rather than to those in need. Before you donate, check the name of the charity online. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) offers a useful search tool here. If you do decide to donate, make sure you can trace the payment to ensure it gets to the charity.
Wishing you and your loved ones a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season!
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