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It’s the holiday season, and you know what that means: lots of gift-giving and online shopping. Regardless of what you and your family celebrate this holiday season, you should be prepared to handle the influx of phishing attacks which always surface around this time every year, including both the usual methods and the more sophisticated ones.
Here are three strategies you can use to avoid phishing attacks and effectively navigate the holiday season without putting your financial or personal information at risk.
Sometimes you might receive an email claiming that there is something wrong with an order. Maybe it’s your financial information, or maybe it’s your shipping information. In any case, these kinds of phishing tricks are using the commercialization of the holiday season to convince you to hand over your sensitive information.
If you receive an email or a text about an order that needs to be updated, then we recommend you go directly to the website in question and log in through their official login portal—especially not through any links contained in emails or text messages.
The same advice that works for untrusted links also applies during the holiday season, when emails and texts are being received by the dozens to ensure that orders are confirmed, payments are processed, and shipments are arriving. Don’t get so caught up in receiving these notifications in your email and on your smartphone that you forget to keep security in mind, though. It’s easy to send a text that looks like it is from some random retailer asking you to plug in your payment information again or to confirm a shipping address, only the message isn’t from a retailer and it’s instead coming from a hacker or other cybercriminal to either infect your system with malware or steal credentials from you.
Again, when in doubt, check your order information on the retailer’s official website, not from a link received in an email or to your smartphone.
This tip is more of just a “be careful of where you shop” caution. During the course of the holidays, people are browsing the Internet all over to find the perfect gifts for their loved ones. Sometimes this search might take them to corners of the Internet they didn’t know existed, where niche online shops thrive. While we are all for supporting small businesses, we just want to raise awareness of how you go about choosing who to trust for online purchases.
The basic premise of it is to only plug your card information into secured portals hosted by trusted retailers. Look at the company’s history, location information, support and other contact numbers, and so on to ensure they are an authentic and trustworthy person to purchase gifts through.
Stay safe this holiday season, and Preferred hopes you enjoy the time spent with your friends and family!