As an increasing number of consumers shop online this holiday season, there is a greater need than ever to protect against costly phishing and cyber scams, according to the National Cyber Security and Communications Integration Center (NCSCIC). Lakeland Bank is sharing tips offered by this organization to help its customers prevent unwanted consequences of phishing and cyber scams.
Phishing is an attempt to acquire usernames, passwords, credit card or other information from unknowing online consumers, and can lead to identity theft. Cyber scams occur when unsavory companies masquerade as legitimate businesses via email and web sites, and other online mechanisms.
Know the Most Common Online Scams
NCSCIC encourages consumers to recognize the signs of some common scams. They include:
- Fake profiles on social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter: They look like their legitimate counterparts, but clicking on links in these profiles could allow a malicious code to be installed on your computer.
- Non-legitimate websites with the “hot gift” of the season when most legitimate retailers are sold out: Check closely before making a purchase and verify that you’re buying from a secure site by looking for the “s” in the URL (https://). As a general rule, stick with online retailers you have used before.
- E-mails from retailers or hotels that claim that a wrong transaction has been charged to a credit card: The business will offer to refund the money if you download and complete a refund form. Doing this could result in the downloading of malware embedded with a malicious code.
- E-mails from courier services that claim there is a package waiting: They will ask for personal information in order to deliver it. Not only won’t you get a package, you’ll get a nice case of identify theft.
- Smartphone digital bar codes that have been compromised: Malicious codes can be affixed on top of legitimate ones. Make sure your smartphone has updated security software.
Tips to Avoid Cyber Scams
- As a general rule, never click on links in e-mails from a sender you don’t recognize.
- Never open attachments from retailers or senders you don’t recognize; legitimate retailers rarely send them.
- Be wary of anyone asking to verify personal information. Never give out personal information in an e-mail or over the phone. Ask for a name and call-back number so you can verify that they are legitimate.
Share this information with your friends and family to help protect them this holiday season.