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December 5, 2014

Five top tips for a fraud-free Christmas

The top five things you need to know to keep your online identities and internet accounts fraud free this Christmas.

By Vinod

The run up to Christmas is always a manic time. The triple whammy of seasonal parties, end of year work deadlines and festive gift buying is enough to distract anyone online. The bad news is that those online criminals sitting at the other end of the internet are well aware of this, and are more than primed and ready to strike.

Business should take more responsibility to protect their customers against account fraud. However, in the meantime, there are a few things we can all do to keep our online identities safe and our internet accounts fraud free.

1) Take stock

It’s important to keep an eye on all of your online accounts in case they have been taken over or infiltrated. But while a hacked Twitter account could be embarrassing, it’s not the end of the world. Your bank and credit card accounts should be the ones under the most intense scrutiny, because you can be sure they are for the cyber criminals.

2) Unique passwords

It seems like a no-brainer when we talk about securing your online accounts. However, passwords are far from an ideal means to secure online accounts, so users are often inclined to reuse them across multiple log-ins. In our most recent Q4 Cybercrime Report we revealed that password sharing was one of the biggest reasons for the rise in account takeover fraud. If your memory isn’t great, consider a password manager tool to help you.

3) Be cyber street smart

Many people let their guard down online and click on links, open attachments and share information with sources they’d never even consider in the real world. So take a step back, think and be more cautious. Red flags should be unsolicited emails or social media messages containing links or attachments you weren’t expecting. At the very least they are just spam, at worst they could download information stealing malware to your PC or trick you into handing over your details via phishing pages spoofed to look like legitimate sites.

4) Stay alert on app stores

There’s really no good reason to download mobile apps from unauthorised app stores. Like jailbreaking or rooting your smartphone it can expose you and your personal information to needless risk. Google, Apple and other major platform providers vet content on their stores pretty well, whereas outside their walls you’re plunged into a Wild West of malware and illegal content which could make off with your personal information.

5) Be app smart

If you decide to ignore the above, or you’re unlucky enough to have downloaded a malicious app there are still ways to minimise your risk exposure. Stay vigilant. Don’t blindly click through as permissions pop-ups appear. Think about what the app does and why it needs to know location, contacts, account log-ins etc. If it looks suspicious, uninstall and you might yet save your personal info from being stolen.

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