It’s Thanksgiving week and that also means that the holiday season has officially started for most of us. And just the holiday season of our youth, as in summer vacation from school, this is the time of year when we as adults tend to put our feet up and let our guard down.
Well, most adults. Those who are looking to take advantage of you are also kicking their season into high gear with scams that target shoppers, travelers, and just about everyone else. With last year being a record $9 billion dollar Black Friday, there’s a lot of money being moved that is as tempting to hackers as is that extra piece of pumpkin pie.
Our guards go down, cybercrime goes up. Now more than ever you need to warn your employees and clients (and friends and family) that being cautious while being generous, is not only wise but also necessary. What should you tell them to look out for this season? Here are a few easy grabs for cybercriminals that they can be aware of.
We click, click, click, but don’t often look, look, look. Fraudulent websites can be nearly impossible to discern from the real thing, so avoid clicking through on emails to “get to the deal”. If a big-box retailer is advertising a deal, go to their website directly and search for it. And don’t call the phone number you’re given to make a purchase either. Fake phone numbers are as prevalent as fake websites.
Credit card skimming accounts for a portion of cybercrime revenue, and it is a tactic that is evolving. Hardware is placed over existing credit card readers and “skims” the card information, essentially stealing it from the retailer and the consumer. It stays there for a time and then is collected later by the criminal. But skimming isn’t limited to hardware anymore. Malware can be deployed to e-skim, on a site as it collects payment information. This tactic is sometimes called a Magecart attack. While this type of breach is harder to detect, you can work to avoid it by not storing your payment information on retail sites and using third-party payment methods like Google Wallet, Apple Pay, or PayPal. Check with your credit card about activating purchase alerts so that you can be aware of any suspicious activity immediately via text. If you won’t be leaving home for the holidays, disable all international purchases on your credit cards as well.
Have you come across those social media gift-giving groups of Secret Santa Sister or even Secret Santa Dog? A large gift exchange to spread the holiday love among strangers, right? Wrong. Often these are merely ways of collecting your data and putting you at risk of losing out on money that you will put out and never see in return. If you want to give and feel good, do it with a reputable charity that aligns with your personal ethics, not one that might steal your personal identity. Not sure how to find one? CharityWatch is a good place to start, but there are others to investigate as well.
The giving season is one that you want your employees and clients to feel good about, and giving them guidance to keep themselves and their businesses safe is one thing that you can feel good about, too!