Christmas is only a few short weeks away. If you're like me, you're probably scrambling to find the perfect gifts to check off for the last few people on your shopping list.
One great tool to help make Christmas shopping less painful is online shopping. Now, you can skip the crowds and find pretty much anything you'd like to buy without leaving the comfort of your own home. The bad news is the numerous scammers trying to rip us off.
With the holidays comes the biggest shopping season of the year. It doesn't matter whether you are shopping online or in person, criminals are trying to get their hands on your information. They could use this information to steal from you directly or try selling it on the Dark Web.
It turns out that scammers don't even need to steal all of your credit card information for them to use it. Once they have your name and card number, it only takes a hacker around six seconds to figure out the expiration date and security code. That means they'd have full access to your account.
How scammers get your information
There are many ways a scammer can steal your information. Here are some of the most popular ones:
- Skimmers - Criminals use skimmers at ATM machines, gas stations and even some retail locations to steal your credit or debit card information to rip you off. Click here to see how skimmers work and what you can do to stay protected from them.
- Data breaches - Sometimes, millions of personal usernames, passwords and email addresses are stolen in hacks and leaks. One of the best defenses against becoming a victim of a data breach is to have strong passwords. Click here to learn three proven formulas for creating hack-proof passwords.
- Phishing attacks - Phishing scams are an effective tool for cybercriminals. They trick their victims into clicking on a malicious link, which allows them to steal credentials, personal information and even money. These scams can be carried out in many ways including email, text or malicious links on fake websites.
- Dark Web - As we described earlier, the Dark Web is a great resource for cybercriminals to get stolen information. This data is collected through the previously mentioned methods, then sold to other criminals online.
Protecting your information
With cybercriminals lurking at every turn, we must stay vigilant in protecting our information. Here are some steps you can take:
- Update your gadget - You should always make sure that your gadget's software is up to date. These updates are constantly being released to fix vulnerabilities that scammers could exploit.
- Watch banking activity - It's good practice to check your bank statements frequently. If you see any suspicious activity, report it to your financial institution immediately.
- Check to see if you've been compromised - Data breaches are common these days. There are ways that you can see if your information has been stolen. Click here to find out if your data has been compromised. Just go to the site and enter your username or email address and it will tell you if it's been part of a breach.
- Beware of phishing attacks - These scams are an ever popular tool of the cybercriminal. They're always trying to trick us into clicking on malicious links so they can steal our information. Click here to see if you can spot a phishing email.
- Have strong security software - Having strong protection on your family's gadgets is very important. The best defense against digital threats is strong security software.