FEMA cautions holiday shoppers against online scams

Posted 11/27/23

The holiday shopping season is a prime time for hackers, scammers, and online thieves.

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FEMA cautions holiday shoppers against online scams


ATLANTA — The holiday shopping season is a prime time for hackers, scammers, and online thieves. While millions of people will be online looking for the best gifts and Cyber Monday deals, hackers will be looking to take advantage of unsuspecting shoppers by searching for weaknesses in their devices or internet connections or attempting to extract personal and financial information through fake websites or charities. Their goal is simple: compromise your data, insert malicious software, steal your identity, and take your money.

FEMA urges every shopper to protect themselves online with a few simple ways to avoid becoming a victim of cyber-crime.

Here are some commonsense ways to protect yourself online:
• Implement multi-factor authentication on your accounts to make it much less likely you’ll get hacked.
• Update your software and your apps. Better yet, turn on automatic updates.
• Think before you click. Most successful cyber-attacks start with a phishing email.

• Use strong passwords, and ideally a password manager to generate and store unique passwords.
• Don’t connect to unsecure public Wi-Fi, especially to do your banking or shopping.
• Don’t click links or download attachments unless you’re confident of where they came from. If you’re unsure if an email is legitimate, type the URL of the retailer or other company into your web browser, as opposed to clicking the link.

Use safe methods for purchases
• Use a credit card as opposed to a debit card. There are laws to limit your liability for fraudulent credit card charges, but you may not have the same level of protection for your debit cards.

• Check your credit card and bank statements for any fraudulent charges. Immediately notify your bank or financial institution and local law enforcement.

• Be wary of emails requesting personal information. Attackers may attempt to gather information by sending emails requesting that you confirm purchase or account information. Legitimate businesses will not solicit this type of information through email.

• If you believe your personal or financial information has been stolen, report it right away to your local police and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). There’s information on the FTC website, www.identitytheft.gov, about how to report.

•  Immediately change your passwords; use complex passwords and use a different one for each account. A password manager can help you do this.

To learn more, visit www.ready.gov/cybersecurity.

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