’Tis the season for giving and who better to give a giant headache to than the digital scammers working overtime to wreck our holidays? Can we spot and unravel every scam out there? Probably not. But, by taking a few minutes to get equipped to click, we can dodge common traps laid by cybercrooks and wreck their holidays before they get a chance to wreck ours.
Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robo Calls
As informed as most of us may profess to be, American consumers continue to step into cyber traps every day. In fact, according to a recent McAfee survey, in 2019, 74% of those surveyed admitted to losing more than $100 in scams and almost a third (30%) losing more than $500. The survey also revealed that 48% of Americans have been or know someone who has been a victim of robocalling in 2019, making it the most prevalent scam of the year. Email phishing (41%) and text phishing (35%) are also tricks we fell for in 2019.
Cybercrooks call those stats a very happy holiday.
Are you equipped to click?
We can do our part to reduce these statistics. Before we all get distracted with shopping sprees or fall into sugar comas, call a family huddle. Discuss ways to avoid the digital traps and send cybercrooks into a maze of locked doors and dead ends. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
7 ways to wreck a cybercrook’s holidays
- Get real about cybercrime. Don’t sugar coat cybercrime for your kids. Here’s the truth: Over 2.2 billion stolen account credentials were made available on the cybercriminal underground throughout Q1 2019 alone, which puts a priceless amount of user data at risk. Crooks are targeting us. They are shopping the black web for stolen data to use in a variety of illegal ways. If we fail to lock our digital doors, the consequences can be emotionally and financially devastating and may last years.
- Shake up your passwords. Never use the same password. By uncovering one of your passwords, cybercriminals can get their hands on thousands of passwords, which they can then use to try to access multiple accounts. So change passwords often and use a variety, especially around the holidays when online shopping spikes.
- Verify emails. Slow down to examine emails. Instead of clicking on an email link, check directly with the source to verify an offer or shipment. Cybercriminals are getting very sophisticated. They are creating full websites that closely mimic brand retailers. Also, they are posing as friends, family, and colleagues in an attempt to get you to click a link that will download malicious malware onto your computer.
- Browse securely. Use a comprehensive security solution to help protect devices against malware, phishing attacks, and malicious websites.
- Use a tool to help protect your personal information. Take a proactive approach to help protect identities with personal and financial monitoring and recovery tools to help your identity secure.
- Verify shipments. Cybercrooks understand consumer habits. They know you’ve likely ordered from several online retailers, so they will exploit that and try to confuse you by sending bogus shipment notifications or reward you with “added offers.” The email will look legitimate. It will likely have a legitimate-looking email address and branding of the retailer or shipping company. Check directly with the source before clicking any link in an offer or shipment notification.
- Protect your identity. Criminals are on the prowl to find weak links anywhere personal data is kept — the includes credit card companies and banks. Get proactive in protecting your identity and the identities of your family members with personal and financial monitoring and recovery tools.
Even with the threats that exist around us, keep your sights fixed on the bigger picture. The holiday season is still merry and bright. People are still good. And, peace on earth — and in your home — is still possible this year. With a little foresight and a few cool tools, you are more than able to protect the things that matter most.