Holiday Internet Safety

With the holidays fast approaching, the fraudsters are out in full force. Last year it was Target getting breached with everyone’s credit card information stolen.

This year the new thing is fake apps (applications).

Here are a few things to help you spot a fake app:
·         If the offer is too good to believe then it is probably a scam. Don’t click on the advertisement to download the app.
·         If there are misspelled words in the app then avoid it. The fake app can install malware that steals your personal information like card numbers, passwords, account numbers, etc.
·         If there are no reviews then the app is new and should be avoided as well. Especially, if the app is for a reputable company. Apple, Google and Microsoft have taken down many fake apps, but just as fast as they remove one, more pop up for download.
·         The best way to get the app instead of using the app stores is to go directly to the company’s web site and downloading it from there. Most companies have a download page on their site.

Here are a few things to remember when shopping on line:
·         Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mails or click on links contained within them.
·         Beware of e-mails, text messages, or postings that may lead to fraudulent sites offering bargains on brand name products. Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the advertisement to verify it is genuine.
·         If you are requested to act quickly or there is an emergency, it may be a scam. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act impulsively.
·         Only use secured sites. Ones that start with https: . This insures that the data is encrypted and cannot be viewed by just anyone.

Most of all remember to Stop, Think, Connect.   Stop or slow down and review the site before making that big purchase on line.

Here are a few final tips to stay safe online this holiday season.
·         Does everything look legitimate and nothing out of place on the site. Think about what could happen if I post on Facebook or Twitter photos of my family.
·         Does the photo contain personal information, is it in front of your home with the street address clearly visible, have you label everyone with their names, included your pets and their names (people love to use their pets names for passwords, do you?)?
·         Are you telling everyone your travel plans with dates and times that you’re not going to be home?
·         Are you connecting to a secure site?  Do not use the coffee shops free wifi, because the guy next to you may be stealing all the data that is going across the connection.
·         Do you have a passcode or password on your mobile devices and that they are complex enough that a hacker cannot easily guess them?

The holidays are fun times with family and friends, so don’t let a few individuals ruin your holiday spirit. 

Take Care and Be Safe This Holiday Season!

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