Ho-ho-hold your horses online to avoid phishers
new york» ’Tis the season to be jolly — but it’s also the season for identity theft, phishing and credit card fraud.
With Christmas just days away, people are using their smartphones and other devices to get a handle on their last-minute shopping. Hackers are on the hunt as well, looking to steal personal information from easy targets.
“People just need to have their radar up, so that when they’re trying to get their perfect gift to grandma’s house in time for Christmas day, they’re not clicking on things they shouldn’t,” says Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance.
Here are some tips for staying safe this holiday season as you rush to get last-minute shopping done.
Make sure your phone’s operating system and all the apps you use to shop are up to date. That way you’ll have the fixes for any recently discovered security problems.
You should also enable multifactor authentication in the settings on your important accounts.
Nobody likes to dip into their mobile-data plan, but you might want to set aside a few gigabytes for your holiday shopping.
Signing on to free Wi-Fi at a store or coffee shop can be risky. Hackers could be lurking on the networks, ready to use that connection to steal credit-card numbers or other personal information. If you’re using free Wi-Fi, at least wait till you get home to check your bank account balances, Kaiser says.
Phishing spikes during the holiday season. E-mails that offer great deals on holiday gifts or donation pitches from charities could actually be attempts to steal your credit card or login information.
Another popular trick: fake e-mails supposedly sent by online retailers or shipping companies.
Don’t click on links in these e-mails, as they may lead you to a fake website that looks legitimate. Instead, type in the company’s website directly.