Face it – the holiday season is a stressful time. You’ve got shopping to do, feasts to prepare and in-laws to disappoint. It’s enough to make a person down a gallon of spiked eggnog (Good stuff here) #makersmark. Adding the icing to that great big stress cake are all the cyber grinches and porch pirates looking to score your Christmas goodies! Black Dog put together a few tips that should keep you from dropping choice holiday words and keep you on Santa’s good list!
Know before you go!
Sounds Suessian for sure, but it really is simple. There are so many different sites you can purchase from on the internet. All we’re asking is that you know them before you buy from them. If you haven’t purchased from them in the past, check them out. Google the store name and reviews and see what pops up. Phone a friend – use those social media skills. Check ‘em out before you check out! (I like that one – I’ll gladly accept royalties for anyone wanting to use it).
Avoid the Phish!
Prime rib, turkey, ham all sound delicious. You can even stretch as far as salmon, but no Phish! It’s an old scam – but it lives on because it works. Here’s a quick example. Everyone orders online and tons of us from Amazon. John gets an email letting him know there was a problem with his order and he needs to login using the link provided and decide on a new shipping method. It looks good, so John follows it, and enters his username and password. Some creep on the other side of the world now has Johns Amazon credentials – which if I know John, are the same ones he uses for his bank, his credit card and just about every other login he has.
Pay attention to the email address it comes from – not the display name, but the actual email address. Watch for misspellings and ask yourself does it logically make sense for me to receive this email. A good reference can be found here.
Stay off the Public Wi-Fi.
Seriously. Not good. Bad Hombres out there. There are many ways a hacker can get you while you’re on public Wi-Fi. If you must use a device while you’re out – configure and use your hot spot on your smartphone and use that before you use public Wi-Fi. There are all kinds of vulnerabilities inherit in using public Wi-Fi, but check this one out for a quick explanation of just one.
Thou shall not Pass(word).
I’m going to guess something about you – you use one, maybe two passwords for just about everything. Not a good idea! Change them and do it now! Continue to change them quarterly. Or consider using a password manager. You can learn more about them here.
What is that you ask? Glad you did. Essentially Two Factor Authentication (2FA) uses your password and a second method to confirm its you who is logging into whatever it is you’re logging into! In simple form – you enter your password, the site texts a special code to your smart phone, you then enter that code into the site and you’ve been authenticated. These second factors can be texts, app generated codes, actual physical USB keys, and email. Text is becoming one of the most popular, and many sites have this functionality built in – but you need to turn it on. If you’re not familiar with this, watch this short video and get used to it – because you’re going to see it a lot more in the future.
Give Yourself Some Credit!
This is an oldie but a goodie. Financial institutions treat credit and debit cards very differently when it comes to fraud. In short, the most you can be on the hook for if a credit card is used fraudulently is $50. Your debit card can be up to ten times that. From this standpoint, it’s better to use credit.
Check Your Accounts.
My wife does this excessively around the holidays. She does it first to protect us from fraudulent activities. If she sees something odd on the account, she can report it right away. I am convinced however that she does it more so to get an idea of where her presents are coming from! Regardless, she’s checking them, and has spotted fraud on a couple occasions. You should be doing the same!
Don’t get your timbers shivered!
I’ll admit, I’m not really sure what this means – but I know its pirate talk matey! FedEx, UPS and the Postal Service don’t exactly hide your packages when they’re delivered. Protect your porch from pirates and get a doorbell unit like Ring. These allow you to not only record suspicious activities, but also yell at those pesky porch pirates while they’re in the act! This is a great way to keep your packages safe while they wait for you to get home.
Keep your devices up to date.
Laptops, PC’s, phones. Make sure they are all getting their updates. Get antivirus on your devices and make sure they are all backed up. If a bad guy gets you through something particularly nasty you could have data loss on your hands too! Make sure you’re protected.
10 – If it sounds too good to be true…It probably is. Sound old advice that is probably more applicable today than ever. Don’t fall for the $2,000 TV selling for $400.
There you have it – 10 sure fire ways to not get ripped off this holiday season. if you need help in any of these areas - we'd be happy to lend a hand or point you in the right direction!
An early “Happy Holidays” to you and yours from Black Dog IT Solutions.