Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It's That Time of Year - Holiday Spams and Scams

   It's that time of year again folks.  And whatever holiday you may, or may not, celebrate... there's something we're all likely to see.  It's not presents, though maybe there are some for you.  It's not snow, though we'll see that soon enough here in the upper midwest US.  It's malware and holiday scams!

   Unfortunately, it happens every year.  Sometimes it's malicious attachments.  Sometimes it's links to malware to download or phishing sites with forms ready to collect your personal and financial information.

   Here is my 2013 edition of my Top 10 Tips To Avoid Holiday Spams and Scams...

  1. Don't respond to unsolicited email.  It just lets the spammer know you are a live person.
  2. Use care with links in unsolicited email.  There's a good chance that link leads somewhere you don't want to go... like a phishing site or a malware download.
  3. Watch out for attachments... even pictures.  Stop and think before you click on that attachment.  Even if it looks like it came from a friend.  Were you expecting the email and attachment?
  4. Be stingy with your personal information.  Much of what happens in today's world happens online.  And you will have to provide some information sometimes.  But every site doesn't need all your personal information.  And just because a site asks for information doesn't mean you have to provide it.  Before you fill out that form, stop and think, then decide how much information you want to provide.
  5. Compare the link to the site you're directed to.  You're going to click on some links.  You probably clicked on a link to get to this blog post!  But stop and think.  Look at the link.  Mouse-over the link.  Does it make sense.  And, after you click, does it take to the site you thought it would?  If not, close that browser tab.
  6. Use the "official" website rather than clicking on the link.  You can always type in a known website address, for example to your bank or a shopping site, rather than clicking on a link.  Or, if you use a password vault then use the link you have stored in your vault.
  7. Check for the use of https and look for the lock symbol before entering financial or personal information.
  8. Watch you bills and accounts.  That way you can catch any unusual or potentially fraudulent transactions early and get them straightened out.
  9. Get social media savvy.  Bad links don't only come from email.  Social media sites are used by scammers to pass dangerous links and malware.  Remember, your "friend" is not necessarily your friend.
  10. If you get new tech, then get security!  Some of you might buy a new laptop, tablet or smartphone during the holiday season.  Get security software and install it!  Configure automatic security updates!
    And here's a bonus tip!
    11. Watch out for links in text messages.  Just like with links that come via social media, scammers can send you links in text messages.  Don't click unless you know the sender and are expecting the link.
   That's this year's list.  It can certainly apply to past, and future, years as well.

   What other tips do you have?

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