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Stay Safe from Cyber Criminals this Holiday Season with These 5 Tips

Updated: October 23, 2023

‘Tis the season of laughter, joy…and cyber scams. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, global losses from cybercrime in 2023 are forecasted to cost the world $8 trillion USD. With the rise of e-commerce retailers, quick shipping turnaround, and digital banking, consumers are utilizing the web to complete their holiday checklist now more than ever. Unfortunately, with the rise of online shopping also comes the rise of new and inventive scams to steal money from unsuspecting consumers. At Launch CU, we care about your personal finances and want you to remain unaffected by these scams. Stay safe from cyber criminals this holiday season with these five tips!

Use Only Your Device’s Certified App Stores to Download Apps

Only download apps from your device’s certified app store. Apps available for download on third party, unsecured websites may contain malware or viruses. Once downloaded, the malware or virus will be installed on your device and can steal sensitive personal information. According to their App security overview, “Apple provides layers of protection to help ensure that apps are free of known malware and haven’t been tampered with.” To keep your device and information secure, stick to your device’s certified app store for all app downloads. 

Go a step further, and research apps before you install them from the certified app store. When downloading an app to your phone, it’s important to know what kind of information it obtains and what that information is utilized for. If you care about your data security, make sure you read the app’s privacy policy. When you look into the privacy policies of certain apps, you’d be surprised what data is collected and doesn’t need to be. 

How to Stay Safe from Cyber Criminals This Holiday Season

Only Shop from Secure, Trusted Retail Website Shops

Stay Safe from Cyber Criminals this Holiday Season

67% of surveyed consumers plan on doing their holiday shopping online in 2023. Apart from convenience, a primary attraction is the possibility of snagging hard-to-find, expensive, or out-of-stock products for a great deal. 

We all see them, the promoted ads for a new online shop with great merchandise and even better deals. Buyer beware, if a deal seems too good to be true then it probably is! Retail website scammers often pose as legitimate retailers to trick unsuspecting shoppers into providing sensitive personal and financial information. These scammers will often ask for payment through uncommon means, like money orders, pre-loaded money cards, or wire transfers. If an online shop requests payment through one of these methods, stop your transaction immediately and exit the site. 

It’s important to take note of whether a website’s domain is secure or not. Look at the beginning of a website’s URL. It will either start with HTTP or HTTPS. Websites beginning with HTTPS (Hyper Test Transfer Protocol Secure) is securely encrypted, meaning hackers can’t access your sensitive personal information. Websites beginning with HTTP (lacking the “S” at the end) are unsecured and easily read by any hacker. Check out more tips on how to stay cyber-aware.

Confirm Purchases Before Opening Shipment Notifications

Have you ever received a text with a link to your shipment’s tracking information, but you don’t recall placing an order? Scammers are sending realistic-looking SMS messages, posing as reputable shipping companies with information on tracking for a recent purchase. When you receive a text like this, do not click on the link right away. There are always a few tell-tale signs that will confirm whether the message is legitimate or a scam.  First, look at the sending number. If it is an unfamiliar or personal number, chances are it is a scammer. When you look at the link in the text message, without clicking on it, if it appears to direct to an unfamiliar website or is a suspicious stream of numbers and letters then it may be a scam as well. If you did not recently place a purchase and you know you should not be receiving shipment notifications, do not click on the link. When you receive a scam link, your best course of action is to block or report the sender and delete the message.

If you are expecting a shipment notification but you’re still not positive whether the text is legitimate or a scam, there are other ways to check the status of your shipment. The company you purchased from should email you a tracking number once your package has shipped. With that tracking number, you can search the progress of your shipment on the shipping company’s verified website. Learn more about similar scams you should avoid.

Confirm Purchases Before Clicking on Shipment Notifications

Consistently Monitor Bank and Credit Cards for Suspicious Activity

Monitor Accounts and Credit Cards for Suspicious Activity

Avoiding your Launch CU Digital Banking app because you were a little overzealous with holiday shopping this year? We understand not wanting to see the dent Black Friday shopping made in your checking account, but it’s important to keep a close eye on your bank accounts and credit cards for suspicious activity. Whether it be a small or large amount, you should recognize every charge on your accounts. Scammers will start with a small charge to see if that will raise any red flags. If not, they will move on to larger purchases. 

Launch CU offers real-time fraud alerts to help you prevent fraudulent transactions from happening on your debit and credit cards. Stay vigilant by checking your accounts and transactions weekly for any fraudulent activity. If you do find any fraudulent activity on your accounts, contact Launch Credit Union immediately.

Verify Information Before Sharing to Avoid Spreading Disinformation

You know how the old saying goes, rumors spread like wildfires. While it’s easy to get swept up in the latest frenzy, taking a moment to research and validate rumors before sharing them can stop the spread of disinformation. While many scams shared on social media sites are true, unfortunately, some people may over-embellish the truth or lie outright for shares, likes, and comments. While staying aware of cyber scams is important to protect your financial well-being, it is also important to not let the fear and stress of a possible threat ruin your holiday cheer. If you’re unsure about a rumor regarding new financial scams this holiday season, our team is happy to provide you with accurate and up-to-date information. Please call our Contact Center at 321-455-9400 inside Brevard, or 1-(800)-662-5257 outside Brevard. 

Avoid Spreading Disinformation

The holiday season can be stressful enough without worrying about possible scams or fraudulent charges on your accounts. Protect your joy and stay safe from cyber criminals this holiday season with these helpful tips! Interested in learning more to protect your security year-round? Visit our Security Center to learn more.

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