As you prepare your shopping and gift lists, it’s important to keep the security and privacy of your personal information, Internet-connected devices, and new purchases at the forefront. To make this easier, we are covering what you should be aware of before, during, and after shopping this holiday season.
Identify and Avoid Scams
The holidays often attract impersonators of real and reputable brands and organizations. Using strategies such as urgent email, consistent phone calls, and even fake mail to lure individuals and seniors into handing over personally identifiable information including date of birth, financial, and Social Security information. When in doubt, contact the real customer service number (found after a quick Google search). Don’t contact any numbers listed or shared as they could be fake.
Phishing is an email strategy used year-round but is especially prevalent during the holiday season. By luring vulnerable or uneducated online shoppers with unbelievable deals and immediate action requests, shoppers are tricked into sharing their private information. Impersonating others, these can be easy to fall for, so look at everything with a keen eye, and if something is fake, mark it as spam.
Unknown Links or Attachments
You’ll never be asked by an authentic organization or website to follow 3rd party login instructions, follow an unknown link, or download an attachment or app. It’s possible these requests could contain viruses and spyware designed to steal your information. Therefore, you should always act with care. However, when in need, trust your gut. Find a different site, mark the email as spam, and never share login credentials that are “required to resolve an immediate issue”.
For a comprehensive list of Holiday scams, check out this article shared by the BBB.
Check your Receipts and Bills
- Suspicious purchases and irregular spending patterns
- Duplicate items or mistakes
- Unauthorized access or notifications from lenders or creditors Any of the above could be a sign that your information is being used fraudulently.
Shop with Trusted and Secured Sites
You should check the authenticity of the websites you want to shop with. The URL for their web pages, cart, and checkout pages should say “https://” and have a visible lock symbol. Always review the URL of checkout pages, and only exchange personal information with secured sites. Fake websites and offers are all over the web this time of year. When in doubt, search for a major online retailer you can trust. The deals may not be as good, but you know you’re getting the real thing.
Update Your Mobile and Internet-Connected Devices
Enable Automatic Updates
Keep your devices operating smoothly and your data secure by automating the update process. All Internet-connected devices, applications, and security platforms utilize regular updates to both identify and fix potential vulnerabilities and critical bugs. So next time you’re notified, don’t just click “remind me later”. Instead, find the automatic update settings and activate them.
Keep Your Devices Locked
If you’re not using the device, be sure to keep it in arm's reach, or even better, lock it and keep it in your pocket. Strong passwords, biometric scanners, and two-factor authentications can be used to keep your devices secure from potential thieves.
Defend Your Online Identity
Create a New Email Address
Before creating an online account to complete your purchase, generate a new email address. This new email account shouldn’t contain information that could identify you such as your name or date of birth. Protect the new account with a secure password and use this solely for store accounts and online shopping. This way you can easily keep track of order notifications and billing statements. Furthermore, if this account were to be breached by an untrustworthy site or individual, they wouldn’t have access to your personal email and contacts.
Get Immediate Help—Easily
Medical Guardian Medical Alert System
A medical alert system is not just for emergency circumstances; it can also be used in non-emergency situations, such as being connected to someone to report fraud or a scam. Simply press your medical alert “help” button to speak with one of our highly-trained operators from our UL-certified monitoring centers to get the exact type of help you need! Happy safe shopping!