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11th Day: Is that Holiday Email Really a Lump of Coal?

Holiday Security Tips: On the eleventh day of Christmas, the experts gave to me, 11 private emails

During the holidays, we tend to spend more time online, searching for the perfect gift, swapping emails with friends, viewing festive holiday pictures, jokes and so on.  Cybercriminals know this and guess what?  They’re online more, too—looking for ways to lure you into scams to ruin your holidays and steal valuable information.   Here are just a few email scams to watch for:

Holiday e-card scams: Each year, more and more people are going the environmentally friendly and cost-effective route by sending holiday e-cards.  Cybercriminals, looking to install malicious software on your computer, may join in the fun and send you an e-card with an attachment to open.

Solution:  Resist your curiosity to see that adorable elf dance; only open attachments from trusted friends and family. If you don’t recognize the sender, don’t open the e-card. 

Holiday-related search term scams: We all like to be a bit more festive at the holidays, so we look for winter wonderland screensavers or our favorite carol for a ringtone.  However, these items may be disguised malware or spyware and you won’t feel so festive after it compromises and exposes the data on your computer.

Solution:  Make sure that you have protected your computer with automatically updated anti-virus software and operating system updates. As a rule of thumb, if you aren’t paying cash for a download, you might be paying by giving away your free information.

Fake invoice scams: Cybercriminals know that we tend to do a lot of holiday shopping online or through catalogs.  To try to trick you into giving credit card details or other valuable information, the criminals will send fake notices, either about delivery status or phony invoices that appear to be from legitimate companies (UPS, FedEx, USPS).  They might say they need to credit your account or you need to fill out a form in order to receive the package.  When you comply, your information and/or your computer may be compromised.

Solution:  Log onto the website of the company supposedly contacting you to track your packages or get a phone number to call and check on the action requested.

If you must peek inside a package, choose the shiny one underneath your Christmas tree.  Just don’t open those scary email links! On the twelfth day of Christmas…

To review our tips from previous days, click here.

John Sileo is an an award-winning author and keynote speaker on identity theft, internet privacy, fraud training & technology defense. John specializes in making security entertaining, so that it works. John is CEO of The Sileo Group, whose clients include the Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security & Pfizer. John’s body of work includes appearances on 60 Minutes, Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper & Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.

10th Day: Beware the Phony Santa Claus Comin’ to Town

Holiday Security Tips: On the tenth day of Christmas, the experts gave to me, 10 trusted charities

Because you tend to be more giving throughout the holidays, scammers target you during this time of year. Whether they are asking for a donation to a charity, promising free iPads, claiming to be a friend in need, or are asking you to click on something outrageous or out of character, don’t fall for it.

Solution: Keep your eyes open for these common holiday scams

  • Phishing. Thieves, or hackers as they are more commonly known, will send emails that look like they are legitimately sent from a charitable organization when in real-life these are fake web sites that are designed to steal credit card information, donations and your identity. To donate, call or visit the website of a reputable charitable organization.
  • Click Jacking. Click Jacking is a type of social spam. After taking over a friend’s Facebook account, the spammer posts a message on your friend’s Facebook or Twitter page offering free gifts or recommending you donate. Since it looks like a friend has endorsed the post, it’s much easier to fall for the scam. If it’s not believable or out of character, don’t click, as it’s likely to install Malware on your system. 
  • Charity or Friends-in-Distress Scams. Never send money (via check, cash or electronically) based solely on a wall post, email or phone call. Only donate to known charities and only when you have initiated the gift. Respond to wall posts, emails or phone calls for charity by contacting the charity on a reputable phone number or website.

The song tells you that you’d better not pout and better not cry; you won’t have to do either if you just watch out! On the eleventh day of Christmas…

To review our tips from previous days, click here.

John Sileo is an an award-winning author and keynote speaker on identity theft, internet privacy, fraud training & technology defense. John specializes in making security entertaining, so that it works. John is CEO of The Sileo Group, whose clients include the Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security & Pfizer. John’s body of work includes appearances on 60 Minutes, Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper & Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.

9th Day: I’m getting Nuttin’ (But Scams) for Christmas

Holiday Security Tips: On the ninth day of Christmas, the experts gave to me, 9 protected packages

Thieves are on the lookout for the delivery of packages, especially around the holidays.  FedEx and UPS packages might sit outside for hours, often in plain view from the street, making a mighty tempting target.  Not only can thieves grab the precious contents inside, but also the shipping labels often contain personal information the thieves love to get their hands on.

 Solution: Ship packages to your work address, or a PO Box or require a signature 

If your employer doesn’t mind your receiving packages at work, have them shipped there since someone is generally available during the day (when shipments arrive).  If that doesn’t work, consider getting a PO Box at the post office during the holidays.  When all else fails, ask to have your packages shipped with signature required so that they aren’t dropped off unless someone is there to sign. 

Even if you didn’t put a tack on your teacher’s chair or tie a knot in Susie’s hair, you might get nuttin’ for Christmas if you don’t outsmart the thieves.  On the tenth day of Christmas…

To review our tips from previous days, click here.

John Sileo is an an award-winning author and keynote speaker on identity theft, internet privacy, fraud training & technology defense. John specializes in making security entertaining, so that it works. John is CEO of The Sileo Group, whose clients include the Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security & Pfizer. John’s body of work includes appearances on 60 Minutes, Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper & Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.

8th Day: What to Give the Person Who has Everything (and Wants to Keep it!)

Holiday Security Tips: On the eighth day of Christmas, the experts gave to me, 8 scam detectors

Most of us are too busy to monitor every form of identity that is at risk. Unfortunately, victims usually get hit when they take their eye off the ball.

 Solution: Purchase a comprehensive identity monitoring service

While a partridge in a pear tree may have been appreciated in 18th century England, it’s not a very coveted item these days!  Instead, help out the ones you love (and yourself!) by giving the gift of identity theft monitoring.

Traditional credit monitoring (which you can do for free at AnnualCreditReport.com) only detects a portion of identity theft. The remaining theft occurs as a by-product of non-credit loan activities (pay-day loans, etc), shared public records (court cases, real estate transactions, government filings, etc.), Internet trading sites (bought and sold on rogue websites), or in relation to medical or criminal records. It is important to monitor these forms of potential identity theft as well as your credit file. The key here is convenience; if you don’t have to do much to monitor a large portion of your identity, the work goes down while peace of mind increases. Make sure that your monitoring service has at least the following features:

  • 3-in-1 Credit Monitoring from each of the bureaus (Experian, Equifax, TransUnion)
  • Court & Public Record Monitoring
  • Non-credit loan monitoring like pay-day loans
  • Internet Surveillance for the buying and selling of your data
  • Sex Offender Reports to make sure crimes aren’t being committed in your name
  • Identity theft insurance to cover costs if you are affected
  • Identity theft restoration services to save you time

Forget the fruitcake; buy them something they’ll truly appreciate and remember long after the holidays! On the ninth day of Christmas…

To review our tips from previous days, click here.

John Sileo is an an award-winning author and keynote speaker on identity theft, internet privacy, fraud training & technology defense. John specializes in making security entertaining, so that it works. John is CEO of The Sileo Group, whose clients include the Pentagon, Visa, Homeland Security & Pfizer. John’s body of work includes appearances on 60 Minutes, Rachael Ray, Anderson Cooper & Fox Business. Contact him directly on 800.258.8076.