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7 Tips for Avoiding Online Fraud This Holiday Season

‘Tis the season for hackers to increase activity on your credit cards and bank accounts.  Sagiss, our IT consulting firm gave us the following helpful advice to prevent online fraud:

7 Tips for Avoiding Online Fraud This Holiday Season

1.) Don’t Click Email Links: Also called “phishing”, this is the oldest trick in the book for cyber-scammers. Don’t be fooled by emails offering amazing deals, even if it is from a well-known site. Instead, visit the website directly to search for the sale. If you don’t see it there, then the email is most likely a scam.

2.) Only Enter Credit Card Information on sites with SSL Security: SSL (secure socket layer) security ensures that a website is secure. Before you enter any personal information, make sure that the website URL begins with https:// and not http:// The “S” signifies that the website is secure.

3.) Pay with Credit Cards Only: Using a credit card rather than a wire transfer or other non-plastic payment allows you to dispute an item on your bill and report any fraud to your credit card company, possibly freeing you from any false charges.

4.) Ensure Your Antivirus is Up to Date: That way, if you do happen to end up on a malicious site, you have the best protection available. Also ensure that your browsers, plug-ins and apps are patched and up to date as well.

5.) Use a Modern Web Browser: The latest versions of Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari will offer protection against malicious activity and help steer you away from suspicious websites.

6.) Practice Password Prudence: (Try saying that three times fast.) Avoid using weak or default passwords for any online site, and try to use a different password for each site you visit. A handy tip for creating memorable yet complex passwords is to make a “passphrase” e.g. “Alaskais2cold”

7.) Be Wary of Banking Emails: If you receive an email that asks you to download a new banking certificate or token because yours is out of date, call your financial institution using a phone number that is not provided in the email in order to verify its sincerity.

8.) Keep a Paper Trail: Save all your records of online transactions, including receipts, product descriptions, terms of the sale, and any email transactions with the seller. Also read all your credit card statements carefully and report any discrepancies or suspicious charges immediately to your bank.

9.) Use Secure Wi-Fi: While it may be tempting to knock out a little holiday shopping in your local Starbucks, you should avoid sharing any personal or financial information over an unsecured network(one that doesn’t require a password for access.) You never know who else could be lingering on a Wi-Fi hotspot.

10.) Dedicate a Computer for Financial Accounts: If possible, dedicate one computer solely for accessing financial accounts and paying bills. This computer should not be used for surfing the web or emailing—as these are the main portals for cybercrime.

There are many ways to protect against online fraud. A Salmon Sims Thomas advisor can help answer any questions about your specific situation.