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Tip of the Week: Watch Out for Scammers During the Holidays

Tip of the Week: Watch Out for Scammers During the Holidays

Scammers find the holidays to be a wonderful time for stealing from unsuspecting victims. They know that the gift-giving season inspires others to spend a lot of money, which means that sensitive information, like credit card numbers, is up for grabs in bulk. As a consumer yourself, you’ll have to keep an eye out for these scams to make sure that you’re staying as safe as possible this holiday season.

Please keep in mind that what we recommend can only be seen as preventative measures. We can’t guarantee that your data will be protected adequately on the side of the business you’re purchasing from. If the retailer is known for suffering from data breaches (like Target), you might try to find other places to purchase gifts from, as you don’t want to risk your data becoming the target of hackers.

Do Some Research
Before you commit to a purchase, you should first see if the retailer has control over their security. Just go online and see if there have been any considerable data breaches for the retailer in the past few years. While it might seem a little unfair to judge a retailer based on what happened years ago, you need to look at what they have done since to improve security. If you suspect that the retailer hasn’t put in the work to keep their consumers safe, then just take your business elsewhere.

Check the Physical Area Around ATMs
While you might be hesitant to keep too much cash on you while you go shopping, sometimes it’s unavoidable. You might find yourself using an ATM, and hackers understand this need all too well. ATM scamming is nothing new, but it can be devastating under the right circumstances. ATMs can be tampered with to send credentials to a third party. ATMs can be fitted with devices on the card reader slot, or even have devices attached to the back. If the ATM has back panels missing, or devices attached to it, you should never use it. Make sure to double check for suspicious devices being fit to either the card reader or the backs of the machines, and only use ATMs that are in well-traveled areas that have security cameras in place.

Be Careful of Wireless Connections
Wireless communications are important while shopping this holiday season, but you should never use public Wi-Fi if you can help it. You’re better off using your mobile data plan, as unsecured networks that don’t require a sign-in are well-known dangers. You should set your devices so that they don’t automatically connect to these networks, as the data going into and out of your device could be watched by scammers.

Keep an Eye on Your Devices
Device theft is even more common during the holiday season, as more people are out. Pickpockets and thieves are more common, and they know how valuable your data and devices are. They could sell the information on the black market or sell the devices entirely.

For more great tips and tricks on how to stay safe and secure during the holiday season, subscribe to Washington Works’s blog.

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