Cybercrime doesn’t take a holiday. While many of us look forward to some time off, the combination of relaxation and increased spending during the festive season heightens cybercrime activities. Brendan Kotze, Chief Development Officer at Performanta shares 5 tips to help you stay safe this December holidays.
In the closing months of 2020, globally, consumers spent $1.1 trillion in online shopping. 2021 looks set to increase to $1.2 trillion, yet the real news is that in 2019 we only spent $726 billion. That is an enormous jump, and with it came much more interest from criminals.
Additional factors heighten the risk of online crime. The increase in transactions during holidays can make it tougher to spot fraudulent activities. We travel more, which means we transact from places we usually wouldn’t and support channels such as call centres manage much larger volumes. Meanwhile, our vigilance becomes relaxed.
These season changes provide online criminals with significantly more opportunities and cover to do their dirty deeds. As is often the case, they exploit our negligence to their benefit. But there are several actions you can take to make yourself more digitally secure and stop online fraud or theft from spoiling your time off.
Notify your bank of travel
If you plan to go away and transact in places you don’t usually frequent, consider informing your bank’s card division that you’ll be travelling. This will help avoid false-positive reports, and your bank can triangulate any suspicious activities more accurately.
Keep an eye on your bank statements
You should relax. But don’t relax too much – periodically check your bank transactions for any suspicious activities.
Don’t use public Wi-Fi for sensitive transactions
It may be very convenient to log onto public wifi such as at a coffee shop or even a hotel. But many establishments neglect how well they reinforce their wifi security, and it can be easy for criminals to intercept wifi data. That, or they create a fake hotspot. If you want to log into your online banking or something similarly sensitive, use an encrypted wifi network with a password. Consider also using a VPN. You can also limit sensitive transactions to your mobile provider’s network.
Get a separate spending card
The bad news is that you cannot 100% secure your card. Criminals can compromise an e-commerce site, as they did with British Airways. Criminals inserted a ‘sniffer’ which captured people’s card details as they bought tickets online.
Consider getting a separate card with an account not directly linked to your other accounts. That way, if anything happens, they only get what’s in that card’s account. You can also check with your credit card provider about insurance and how they cover fraud. But avoid using your primary cards for holiday transactions.
Watch your social media posts
This issue occurs more with ‘offline’ criminals, but it’s good to be aware. If you go away for a holiday and post about it on social media, it could alert criminals that your home is uninhabited. Make sure your posts are private, and try to avoid posting too much information about your activities.