Keep your holiday joyful with these 5 security tips

December 4th, 2019

Holiday season has started, which means scam season has started. Our Security Risk Manager Herb Brychta, PSP, CISSP has put together some tips to keep your season full of joy and safe from scammers.

 

  1. Hang up on that phone call or email from a government agency threatening legal action.

The holidays are a great time for this scam as people are busy and distracted. The threat actor might pretend to be from the IRS calling about pending legal action if you don’t pay or provide certain information. It could be someone from social security concerned about fraudulent use of your SSN. It could be someone from Medicare/ Medicaid.

No federal agency does this over the phone or email. None of them. Period. You will get a paper letter. Just hang up. DO NOT PROVIDE ANY INFORMATION TO CALLERS.

If after hanging up you are really concerned that it might be legit, go to the agency’s website, look up the appropriate number, and call the official published number.

 

  1. Check the details on credit monitoring alerts.

If you are enrolled in a credit monitoring service and receive an email about a change, do not click the link in the email. Open a new browser and go to the site that you know is the actual site for your credit service and log in that way. Or at least check the email address and URL before entering your info.  Scammers are getting sophisticated and are able to mirror the look and feel of the websites and emails of these companies.

 

  1. Don’t mail in gift cards for payments.

No government agency allows you to mail in gift cards for payment. Not the feds, not the state, not the town. In fact, no reputable creditor will ask you to mail in gift cards for payment. If a caller demands gift cards for payment, it’s a scam.

 

  1. Avoid sending gift cards through the mail.

Thieves target mailboxes and steal envelopes that look like greeting cards. It’s best to give gift cards in person, but if you must mail them, call the recipient a couple days after mailing and ask if they have received your gift. Old school personal checks offer a slightly higher level of security.

 

  1. Decrease your exposure to package theft.

Even with the advent of doorbell cameras, package theft has remained a constant. You can protect your gifts with a few simple adjustments to the delivery.  If you order something expensive, require a signature.  As another option, have your package delivered to you at work. Or place the order for an in-store pick up. Remember, cameras will tell you who took your stuff. They won’t stop the theft or get you a refund.

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