While We Are In The Spirit Of Holiday Giving, Cybercriminals Are Taking Hot

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McAfee is estimating that 70% of Americans are planning to shop online this season, and 24% of them will be using a mobile device.  Using multiple devices opens up more opportunities for these cybercriminals to get their hands on our personal data. 


It is important to stay educated on the latest scams and ways to protect yourself. 


Here are some of the biggest holiday scams:


1.  Phony E-tailers.  Many times these fake sites will lead you to believe they are legitimate.  However after you type in your credit card information and they have your money, you will never receive your merchandise.  When it comes to selecting an online store be careful, shop only at trusted and well-known online sites.  If it is your first time on a site, check out the users’ reviews and verify that the phone number listed on the site is legitimate.


2.  Malicious mobile apps.  When downloading new applications make sure to use official app stores and check users’ reviews.  You should also check the app’s permission policies. 


3.  Travel scams.  Cybercriminals are putting together phony travel webpages that have beautiful pictures and low prices.  They are using this to lure you in and get you to hand over your financial details. 


4.   SMishing.  During the holidays, cybercriminals know we keep a close on our bank accounts.  They are sending out text messages pretending to be your bank asking you to verify information or go to a phony webpage.


Here are some ways to protect yourself:


1.  Strong passwords.  Your passwords should contain a variety of letters, numbers and characters that don’t spell anything.  They should be 8 characters in length, and you should avoid using the same password for important accounts.


2.  Be careful when clicking.  If you don’t know the person who is sending you a message with a link, don’t click on it.


3.  Have good computer security.  Make sure your computer has an up-to-date and active antivirus, antispyware, anti-spam and firewall. 


4.  Stay suspicious.  If an offer appears to be too good to be true, it probably is.  Be on the lookout for telltale signs of an illegitimate website or email; low resolution images, misspellings, poor grammar or odd links.


Holidays bring out the best in people and the worst in cybercriminals.  Whether you are shopping, booking travel arrangements or paying bills don’t let these cybercriminals ruin your holiday cheer.  Keep your information safe and enjoy your holiday season.

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