You may have thought the Grinch was a fictional character made up by the legendary Dr. Suess, but in reality, there are Grinches everywhere hoping to take your money and personal information during the holiday season.
“The internet has made it super easy for people to shop for gifts and donate to those in need during the holiday season,” says Thomas Bumgardner, an attorney with the Law Office of Thomas D. Bumgardner, PLLC. “But it has also made it just as easy for scammers and hackers to steal your personal information.”
Carbon Black, a cybersecurity company, recently released a report that says cyberattacks are on pace to increase by nearly 60 percent!
“This is why we want to remind people of preventative steps they can take to make sure their personal information is safe, and they aren’t stuck with coal during the holidays,” Bumgardner explains.
Be Cautious While Shopping Online
You should always make sure that you’re shopping at established websites. Certain sites that offer huge deals that are too good to be true could just be trying to hack into your personal information.
An easy way to tell if a website is established and secure is by looking at the website address. Make sure it’s an “https://” site because the “s” stands for secure.
Also, use your credit card instead of a debit card. Credit card companies offer better fraud protection. Plus if your debit card information is used fraudulently, then the money is automatically taken out of your account and it could be harder to get it back.
Fake Holiday Charities
The holidays are a time for giving and helping those in need, and scammers take advantage of that kindness.
Many scammers will send phony charity solicitations through email, phone or text, asking for your money. If you have any doubts if a charity is real or not, head to give.org and it will allow you to see if an organization is real or not.
Phony Shipping Notifications
This scam can be very tricky because a lot of the times it will look like a legitimate email from the United States Postal Service. The emails will contain links or attachments that will download malware onto your computer and then the thieves can take your information when you log into a banking account.
A good rule of thumb is to be suspicious of any email containing links or attachments, especially when it’s from someone you don’t know. You can always go to the USPS website and track delivery information.
Letters From Santa Scam
Yep, the scammers are also taking advantage of jolly old Saint Nick during this season.
The scam involves an unsolicited email sent to you that sells a handwritten letter from Santa for your child. If you end up falling for this scam, one of two things can happen:
- You will lose out on the money that you paid for the letter to Santa, which if that’s all that happens then you’re lucky.
- You will lose out on the money and the thief now has your credit card information and can do some damage to your wallet.
The lesson from this Christmas story… don’t click on emails from people and companies that you don’t know.
Sign-Up for Free Scam Alerts
Because thieves and scammers are always coming up with new ways to steal your money and personal information, you can sign-up for emails from the Federal Trade Commission that will alert you about new scams that they are uncovering.
It would also be a good idea to sign-up for fraud alerts with your credit card company so you know if there is any suspicious activity on your card.
Another tip that will help you this holiday season is to avoid using public Wi-Fi when shopping online and using your credit card. Being on a public Wi-Fi makes it easier for thieves to steal your personal information.
Here at the Law Office of Thomas D. Bumgardner, PLLC, we always want to put you and your family first. Clients come to us for legal representation in personal injury, family and traffic law. Book an appointment with us and we will figure out the best course of legal action for you and your family.