The holiday season is a time for joy and celebration, but it's also a time when scammers and cybercriminals ramp up their efforts to take advantage of people who may be distracted or rushed. Here are some tips to help you stay safe online and avoid scams during the holiday season:
1. Be wary of unexpected or unsolicited emails, texts, or social media messages.
These may contain links or attachments that, if clicked on or downloaded, could install malware or expose you to phishing scams. Don't click on links or download attachments from unknown or untrustworthy sources.
2. Be cautious when shopping online.
Only shop on secure websites, and be sure to look for the "https" in the URL, which indicates a secure encrypted connection. Be especially careful when using public WiFi to make purchases, as it can be easier for hackers to intercept your data.
If you must use public WiFi for example while travelling make sure to invest in a reputable VPN
3. Use strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts
Setup a password manager like Bitwarden or Keepass to help you securely manage your passwords. Also enable two-factor authentication whenever possible. This adds an extra layer of security to your accounts, making it more difficult for hackers to gain access.
4. Be mindful of holiday-themed scams.
Scammers may try to take advantage of the holiday season by sending fake emails or texts claiming to be from charities or companies offering "too good to be true" deals. Don't fall for it – do your research before making a donation or purchasing from an unfamiliar company.
5. Protect your personal information.
Don't give out your personal or financial information to anyone you don't know or trust, and be sure to keep an eye on your credit card statements and bank accounts for any unauthorised activity.
6. Be aware of holiday travel scams.
Scammers may try to take advantage of the holiday season by offering fake travel deals or stealing your personal and financial information through fake travel websites. Always book travel arrangements through trusted sources, and be wary of offers that seem too good to be true.
7. Protect your devices.
Keep your devices, including computers, tablets, and smartphones, up to date with the latest security patches and software updates. This helps to protect against known vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers.
8. Don't fall for impostor scams.
Scammers may try to impersonate friends, family members, or trusted organisations in order to trick you into giving them money or personal information. If you receive a request for money or personal information from someone you know, verify the request through a separate channel before proceeding.
9. Use a credit card instead of a debit card for online purchases.
Credit cards offer more protection against fraudulent charges, and if you do experience fraud, it's generally easier to dispute the charges and get your money back.
10. Be mindful of social media scams.
Scammers may try to take advantage of the holiday season by creating fake social media profiles or events in order to trick you into giving them money, crypto currency or personal information. Be sure to verify the authenticity of any social media profiles or events before interacting with them.
The holiday season can be a stressful and busy time, and scammers may try to take advantage of this by preying on people's emotions or trying to rush them into making decisions. For example, they may claim to be a loved one in need of urgent financial assistance, or offer a "limited time" deal that requires you to act quickly.
Be aware of scams related to gift cards and e-cards. Scammers may try to sell fake or non-existent gift cards, or send fake e-cards with links that download malware onto your device.
Be mindful when sharing personal information online, such as your address or phone number. Cyber criminals may use this information to target you with scams or other forms of cyber crime.
Finally, the holidays often involve a lot of online shopping, which can make you more vulnerable to cyber threats such as phishing scams and malware. By being aware of these threats and taking steps to protect yourself, you can help ensure that your holiday season is enjoyable and stress-free.
Stay safe online and have a happy holidays for the Aus Security Team!