Yes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year, with parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting – and cyber criminals looking to take advantage of your holiday busy-ness to compromise your online security. They hope you’ll be distracted, overwhelmed with extra tasks, and generally in a more giving mood.
I’m sure you know to be careful of your wallet in holiday crowds. You should be just as careful about your financial information online. Here are some tips:
- Do your research before donating to charities. Organizations like Charity Navigator, one of the nation's largest and most-used evaluator of charities, provide detailed information to help you make good choices.
- Don’t give your account information to someone who calls you, even if it’s for a good cause. If you want to donate, check out the charity’s main number and call them back to donate.
- Be careful of clicking on links you get in emails from unfamiliar websites. If the deal looks too good to be true, search the company’s name in your browser to get to the official website. And while you’re searching, make sure the company is reputable, too.
- Be careful of clicking on any email from an unfamiliar address.
- Sitting in a coffee shop using their public Wi-Fi? Remember, it’s not secure, so wait to get to your secure online connection at home before doing any shopping.
- Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date on all your devices – computer, phone, or tablet.
- Don’t fall for “The IRS Scam.” The IRS will never call you to ask for payment. They send all notices by U.S. mail.
- Consider identity theft protection – fraud alerts and credit freezes have value but will not detect many forms of identity fraud with existing accounts, or criminal, medical, or Social Security misuse. Developed by former law enforcement and security experts, ID360 goes beyond simply monitoring credit by using a system to help clients prevent, detect and recover from identity theft, and is available to you and your family at a substantial discount. Visithttps://www.identitylockdown.com/Cetera to learn more.
Finally, if you suspect your financial information has been compromised, be sure to call your bank and credit card companies immediately. If you’d like more information, please feel free to call me.