Holiday Cyber Threats

Check your link and check it twice before you click “add to cart” this holiday season!

As the winter chill rolls in, many people have decked their halls and readied their credit cards to find the best gifts for their loved ones. But, while you’re looking for the top holiday deals, cyber criminals are searching for an entryway into your bank account.

Many cyber criminals have created holiday-tagged URLs advertising major deals on holiday gifts to attract spenders and access their credit card information. This problem has become so pervasive that the United States government recently issued a statement warning residents to be wary of holiday scams including fraudulent, holiday-tagged URLs and phishing emails. Holiday phishing emails come disguised as shopping deals, holiday E-Cards, or donation campaigns for fake charities and causes.

These scammers have become expert at making their fake websites and emails look like the real thing. By clicking a link on an email to a phony, holiday-tagged site or stumbling upon one in your search for the next best deal, you could be falling into a cyber criminal’s trap. If you enter any personal information, such as your credit card details, these criminals could get a dangerous hold on your credentials. 

So, while you trim up the tree, be sure to look out for holiday-tagged, malicious URLs and phishing emails when shopping online. Here are some tips to follow before clicking checkout this holiday season:

  1. Research deals with rock-bottom prices.
    • Many stores will be offering their best deals this season, but some bargains are too good to be true. If you see a deal that’s unbelievable, compare the price and picture with offerings on other websites.
  2. Check out the website’s security.
    • If a website is safe to use, the beginning of the URL will read “https.” The “s” indicates this website has been verified as “secure.” If you find yourself on a website with only “http” at the beginning of its URL, there is no guarantee of privacy protection. If the link to a website comes in the form of an email, always choose to open that link in a browser to check the website’s URL. Unless you see “https” in the URL to your website, you should not give out any personal information.
  3. Pay with a credit card.
    • If you do happen to fall into the trap of a cyber-criminal, your best line of defense could come from your credit card. Most credit-card companies must follow federal regulations that say you won’t have to pay while the card company investigates any unauthorized charges. Also, many of these credit-card companies offer $0 liability for fraudulent purchases. Credit cards provide their users with far greater protection from fraudulent purchases. 

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