Five tips to keep cybercriminals from stealing your holiday joy.
As holiday shoppers search for amazing deals, many fall victim to fake websites, phony social contests and counterfeit gift cards. Once these scammers have your card information, you run the risk of falling victim of identity theft. Shopping on authentic and reputable eCommerce websites that are verified for customer safety and have secure payment gateways is your best bet. Enter the website or merchant name into your browser to access it, rather than from an ad or a link. Also, make sure you’re on a secure website by verifying that the URL begins with HTTPS, and that you see a padlock or key symbol in the browser window.
You can get a new iPad for $50 by clicking on this link! Sound too good to be true? It probably is. Avoid clicking on unknown or suspicious ads or links on the Internet or from within an email. These phishing schemes capture personal information such as credit card and Social Security numbers, or carry malware to attack your device. Viruses can send your contacts, passwords, emails and account information back to the bad guy. Criminals can even intercept messages, monitor calls and steal your personal information remotely from your phone if infected.
Don’t shop from your smartphone until you’ve installed antivirus protection. Just like your PC, your phone needs to be protected when shopping or searching online. Put an antivirus app on your wish list this year. These apps, just like security software on your PC, help keep viruses out—and some even offer GPS tracking to help locate your lost phone. If you’re not sure, play it safe and shop from your protected PC and always enable the screen lock feature on your phone in case it’s lost or stolen.
Make sure all apps you download are from a reputable app store merchant, such as Google, Apple, Amazon and Samsung (and have many positive ratings and reviews). Be cautious of when apps ask for “permissions.” Does a shopping app really need to access your contacts? Nope!
With so much online shopping during the holidays, it’s a great time to create new passwords and protect them with password management software that can store your passwords locally and securely on your PC’s hard drive. When creating passwords, it’s important to have complex passwords with multiple upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. Have a different password for every account, especially your UNIFY and other financial accounts.
When shopping online, always pay by credit card. Most credit card companies offer fraud protection, like UNIFY’s Visa, which offers a Zero Liability Policy—a guarantee that you won’t be held responsible for unauthorized charges if your card is lost, stolen or fraudulently used online or off. It’s equally important to review your statements each month, and alert your financial institution if you’re seeing unauthorized transactions.
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