The holiday season, with its festive cheer and bustling shopping activity, also brings with it a less joyful aspect: a significant increase in cyber threats. While you’re out there trying to spread joy, cybercriminals exploit this time of year with heightened vigor.
The Holiday Scams report from All About Cookies emphasizes the heightened risk of cyber threats during the holiday season, highlighting key issues like increased online fraud on Black Friday, riskier behaviors by consumers during holidays, the prevalence of fraud among younger adults, awareness of credit card safety, the rise of gift card scams, and a significant volume of fraudulent transactions. It also warns of charitable giving scams, the problem of package thefts, and the rise in social media and investment scams.
Despite these risks, the shopping must go on. Let’s take a look at the report and some guidance on how to stay safe from cyber threats.
Key Insights from the Holiday Scams Report
- Black Friday’s Vulnerability: The day stands out for the highest incidence of attempted online fraud, particularly in the U.S. and Canada.
- Increased Risky Online Behaviors: About 34% of U.S. adults tend to lower their guard and engage in riskier online activities during the holiday season.
- Young Adults: Prime Targets: The report indicates that younger adults (18-34 years) experience online fraud more frequently than older age groups.
- Credit Card over Debit Card: There’s growing awareness about the safety of using credit cards for online shopping, given the better fraud protection they offer.
- The Peril of Gift Card Scams: Gift cards, a popular holiday choice, are increasingly being targeted by scammers.
- High Volume of Fraudulent Transactions: Millions of transactions have been flagged as fraudulent, highlighting the scale of the problem.
- Charitable Giving Scams: Scammers often exploit the holiday spirit through fake charity requests.
- Porch Piracy: A significant number of consumers report stolen packages.
- Rise in Social Media and Investment Scams: These platforms have seen a notable increase in scam activities.
- Consumer Confidence in Shopping Safely: Despite these risks, a large portion of shoppers feel confident about their ability to shop safely online.
Staying Cyber-Safe During the Holidays
In response to these challenges, it’s crucial to adopt a vigilant and proactive approach:
- Verify Emails and Websites: Always double-check the authenticity of emails and websites, particularly those that ask for personal information or financial details.
- Choose Reputable Online Retailers: Shop from trusted websites and look for secure payment methods.
- Exercise Caution on Social Media: Be skeptical of too-good-to-be-true offers and verify promotions through official channels.
- Implement Robust Cybersecurity Measures: Use antivirus, anti-phishing tools, and firewalls.
- Stay Informed: Keep up with the latest in scam tactics and share this knowledge with friends and family.
Empowering Yourself Against Cyber Threats
The holiday season should be a time of joy, not marred by the anxiety of cyber threats. By staying informed and cautious, and adopting these safety measures, you can protect yourself from the lurking dangers of the digital world. Remember, your best defense is a combination of awareness, caution, and the right technological tools.
Ahead of the 2022 holiday shopping season, the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned consumers to stay vigilant and shared insight that is still relevant today. Jen Easterly, CISA Director, is quoted as saying, “By following a few guiding principles like checking your devices, shopping from trusted sources, using safe purchasing methods, and following basic cyber hygiene like multi-factor authentication, you can drastically improve your online safety when shopping online for gifts this year. Your cyber safety should be treated like your physical safety. Stay vigilant, take steps [to] protect yourself, and trust your instincts. If you see something that doesn’t look right, there’s a good chance it isn’t.”
For more details, check out the full report yourself here: Holiday Scam Statistics 2023: Keep Your Information Safe This Holiday Season.
Stay safe and Happy Holidays!
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