5 Shopping Tips for Perfect Peace of Mind at Christmas
The elves are bustling around Santa’s factory, the reindeer are stamping their feet. And what about you? Hurrying about trying to buy all the presents from your endless list? Arranging last-minute reservations and preparations? The most wonderful time of the year can be pretty stressful.
Well, before you finally relax into at turkey-tryptophan induced coma on your sofa, there’s just one more thing we think you should consider. In this holiday rush, all kinds of hackers and cons want to profit off exhausted shoppers. So, please take just eight minutes to make sure you’re all protected from digital threats during the jingle bells season.
Here are the Clario’s five tips for safe Christmas shopping.
1. Avoid Santa’s little scammers
Around mid-November, our inboxes are first hit by an avalanche of holiday shopping offers. Some of them might be a scam. Throughout the year, one in every 99 emails is a phishing attack, so chances are high to come across one in a pile of “hot deals”. Don’t give scammers a chance!
What to do if you suspect an email scam:
1. How to recognize a phishing email:
- The offer is too good to be true
- The email asks you for personal or financial information
- The sender’s address doesn’t look genuine: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and so on
- The greeting is impersonal
- The message is poorly written
- The email urges you to open an attachment or follow a suspicious-looking link
2. Don’t click any attachments or links
3. Delete the suspicious email for good
2. Data breaches coming to town
Some bad guys prefer to go straight for the motherloads: instead of swindling credit card records one by one they attack companies that store banking details in bulk.
This kind of a bitter holiday surprise happened to Target in November 2013 and to Macy’s just recently — in October 2019. Both store chains were hacked, losing details of their customers’ card accounts. While the scale of the Macy’s data breach is yet unknown, the number of victims in the Target incident is reported to be up to astonishing 110 million.
What to do about data breaches:
1. Be prepared:
- Apply strong passwords to your banking accounts and don’t reuse them elsewhere
- Get a backup card
2. Act if your details were stolen:
- Request a new credit or debit card from your bank
- Place a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit report
- Check your bank statement, Social Security statement, and a credit report for suspicious records
- Sign up for credit monitoring
- Update passwords and security questions for your accounts
- Set reminders in your calendar for regular security reviews
3. Don’t believe the banking ho-ho-hoax
Imagine yourself at the height of the holiday shopping frenzy. Suddenly, you receive a phone call from a bank notifying you of suspicious activity on your account. The person on the line instructs you to call the bank on a certain number. After you do, you’re asked to provide your credit card number and some other identification details. Done! Phew! In just a few minutes you’ve managed to protect your money from the bad guys!
...Or did you? In fact, this sequence of events is a widespread fraud scheme. Sometimes, criminals get even more creative. After the initial call, they let you dial the legitimate bank’s phone number — but they silently stay on the line and listen to your private conversation. It lets them intercept the security details and go for your money.
What to do about dubious calls from your bank:
1. Don’t provide any sensitive details to the caller and finish the conversation
2. Use a phone number indicated on the bank’s website to call back
3. Call back from another phone or at least wait for some time before calling
4. Optionally, place another, non-sensitive call before to trip up the potential scammers
4. No gifts for the bad boys and girls
Now that you’ve safely ordered all those cool presents, there’s one last thing to take care of. Make sure no one steals the packages right from your porch when they get delivered. Unfortunately, this is quite a common thing these days. According to a report by C + R Research, 36% of American shoppers experienced a package theft at least once.
What to do to prevent “porch piracy”:
1. Schedule delivery for the time when you’re home
2. Request delivery to your office or to friends or relatives who stay at home
3. Request that deliveries require a signature
4. Order delivery to a dedicated store or a locker for self-pickup
5. Secure your porch area with a camera or a video doorbell
6. Buy a lockbox for deliveries
5. Have a holly jolly IoT device
This also deals with safe shopping but in a different way. If you buy a smart device this winter, make sure it won’t let you or your loved ones down. Poorly secured connected devices may easily be hacked. This can lead to spying, exploitation of your device, and other nasty consequences. Don’t let the criminals play with your new toy!
What to do to use a smart device securely:
1. Change default passwords to strong and unique ones
2. Don’t give the devices unnecessary permissions to your contact list, location, and so on
3. Keep your device and app updated
4. Don’t share your smart gadget’s model on social media
5. Disconnect the device when it’s not in use
6. Check out our article about the protection of IoT devices for more details about all these steps.
We hope the Cyber Grinch doesn’t mess with your holidays! Merry Christmas, everyone!
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