It’s the most fraudulent time of the year: Don’t let the Cyber Grinch hack your Christmas!

It’s the most fraudulent time of the year: Don’t let the Cyber Grinch hack your Christmas!

The story begins in the town of Whoville where the Whos are eagerly anticipating Christmas. The Grinch lives on the mountaintop and hates Christmas and the thought of seeing the Whos so joyful. To ruin Christimas, he waits until all the Whos are asleep on Christmas Eve and heads down to town to steal all of their gifts. On Christmas morning, he watches as the Whos wake up and see that all of their Christmas gifts are stolen. However, the Whos all join hands and sing “Welcome Christmas”. His heart begins growing, making him realize the lack of gifts does not impact their Christmas since they find happiness in each other and not in material items.

Although the Cyber Grinch might not be green or live on the mountaintop, cyber ‘Grinchamals’ AKA criminals, love to attack during the holidays. While consumers are looking for the best deals during the holidays, cyber ‘Grinchamals’ see billions of dollars’ worth of possibilities to commit credit card fraud, hack into your bank or credit union account, steal your identity, and so much more. Stay safe from the Cyber Grinch this holiday season by following these 25 tips we’ve compiled:

  1. Keep a tab of your credit union and bank accounts – Keep track of your credit union and bank accounts on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
  2. Monitor your debit and credit cards – The holiday season is a peak time for online fraud. Review your transactions on a frequent basis. Report any fraudulent or questionable charges as soon as you notice them.
  3. Set up email or text alerts  – Get notifications of your account balances and more. Set it up in Online or Mobile Banking.
  4. Use a unique password – If you do not want to remember unique passwords for every website you use, create unique ones for your online banking profile, PayPal account, credit card account, and other accounts linked to your financial information.
  5. Change your passwords often – It is good practice to change your password every few months and store it in safe place. Also, make it a habit to make your passwords longer than 10 characters.
  6. Be aware while using public WiFi – Do not shop online or access your financial institution while using a public wireless network as they pose a major security threat.
  7. Check for the customer service contact number – When you read an email filled with discounts and coupon codes, cross-check the contact number & details mentioned in the email on Google.
  8. Protect your phone  – Add a screen lock or pin code to your smartphone, and don’t leave it unattended wherever you may be.
  9. Maintain an open dialogue with your family, friends, and colleagues about cyber security – Many family members are unaware of all the cyber issues that occur in today’s world. Keep them informed.
  10. Reviews are important – Hunt for reviews against a product displayed on a retailers website on Google.
  11. Hackers grammar check – Stay away from discount-driven emails filled with spelling errors as they are sure signs of fraud.
  12. Be vigilant about offers online – If it sounds too good to be true, there is a high probability you are getting scammed.
  13. Think before you click – Shopping deals and coupons might look genuine but trust your intuition and do not click if you believe there is something wrong.
  14. Only shop with sites or stores you trust – Check if you are on a store’s actual website, and trust your gut if something seems out of place.
  15. Phishing emails – Always check who the email is coming from. If it is free – it’s probably a free virus. Don’t click on links or attachments that you’re not aware of.
  16. Be careful who you give your information to – Never give your financial or personal information over the phone to someone that initiated the call. Only provide confidential information if you placed the call and are sure you are speaking to the desired company.
  17. Be on the lookout for ATM tampering, skimmers or anything suspicious – Don’t use sketchy ATM’s and don’t insert your card into anything that looks like it’s been tempered with. If the card insert looks odd, use a different ATM/self-check out/pump.
  18. Be aware of spoofed phone calls or emails – If you are receiving a phone call from a number you recognize or an email address that seems legitimate, don’t let your guard down – those can be spoofed!
  19. Shred documents containing your information – Dumpster diving is a thing. Cyber Grinch could be going through your trash to collect valuable information about you!
  20. Keep your devices up to date – An outdated device can be missing critical security patches. Don’t leave open doors for hackers.
  21. Use two-factor or multi-factor authentication when possible – The more hurdles hackers have to jump over, the less attractive bait you are.
  22. Password protect your home WiFi – Make sure your home has a strong WiFi password. You don’t want your neighbors infecting your network with their bad internet behavior!
  23. SMShing – Don’t mistake an alert from your credit union or bank with a fraudulent text from someone who is trying to collect your credentials or sensitive information.
  24. Back up your smartphone – Back up your device regularly. Get a copy of your information to use in case you device is replaced, lost, hacked, or damaged.
  25. Vishing – You (probably) don’t owe money to the IRS. Therefore, if you get a call form the IRS, hang up immediately because they NEVER call! Besides, you should download an app, such as RoboKiller or Truecaller and register your numbers on the “National Do Not Call List” at no cost by calling 1-888-382-1222 (voice) or 1-866-290-4236 (TTY).

Although the real Grinch’s heart begins growing and he realizes the lack of gifts does not impact the Whos Christmas, this is not the same for the cyber ‘Grinchamals’ in today’s world. Stay safe this holiday season.