Beware of Cybercriminals This Holiday Season

With increased shopping this holiday season, both in-person and online, there are more opportunities for cybercriminals to target your activities.

Shopping In-Person

  • Gift cards.  1,000 of gift cards that have been tampered with have already been discovered this year.  If you buy a gift card, choose a rack that’s near the cash register and don’t take the first or last one on the holder.  If you’re given a gift card, verify it immediately, even if you don’t plan on spending it right away.
  • Credit cards.  If you hand your credit card to a clerk in the store, instead of directly at a payment terminal, check that you received your own card back. 
  • Don’t use “free” WiFi in shopping centres.  Some of them are cyberscams to get personal and financial information.  Disable your “autoconnect” on your device so you choose where you’re getting WiFi from.
  • Salvation Army in-store donations.  If you want to make a large donation to one of the kettles, you may be able to get a tax donation.  Ask the person who’s in charge of the kettle.
  • Keep your credit cards in a RFID wallet to prevent having the card information stolen electronically.
  • Only take the cards (including your driver’s license) you need when you go shopping.  Leave other cards at home in a safe place.  If you lose your wallet or it’s stolen, you haven’t lost everything.

Shopping Online

  • Don’t click on unsolicited advertisements.  Go directly to the store or retailer’s website and look for the special there.  If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Delivery notifications.  Get a delivery notification and you’re not sure what it’s for?  Don’t click on the link in the notification.  Again, go directly to the delivery company’s website and enter the delivery code to confirm if it’s valid or not.

In General

  • Before posting or reposting to social media, check the accuracy of the information you received or want to share.  There is so much disinformation on the web, it makes sense to fact check before sharing information, to avoid possibly propagating misinformation.
  • Check your bank account and credit card statements regularly.  Best yet, make a list of what you put on your credit card, especially at busy shopping times of the year.  It may be hard to remember that you picked up stocking stuffers or shopped at a store you don’t usually buy from, when it comes time to check what’s on your credit card statement.  This is especially important for services, when the merchant name attached to the charge may not reflect what name they operate under.
  • Downloading apps should only be done from your device’s certified app store.  Confirm that the publisher is trusted before consider downloading it.  Back up your device before downloading a new app in case you must restore. 
  • Fake charities.  We all want to support charities.  But not scam ones.  Don’t provide credit card information over the telephone when it’s an unsolicited call.  And don’t give to charities that send people to your door or who are working the street.  These are employees of companies hired by charities to raise funds and they receive a percentage of your donation.  If you want to donate, do it by cheque or on the charity’s secure web site.

If you enjoyed this article, you also want to check out this series of articles on cybersecurity:

Spam to Phishing

Passwords

Physical Risks  

 

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