Protect Yourself from Online Scams This Holiday Season

While the ease of the Internet is convenient for online holiday shoppers, it also creates a prime opportunity for online predators to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers.


With the holidays fast approaching, the hustle and bustle of the season can definitely be a distraction from our everyday responsibilities. And as consumers continue to turn to the Internet to check off their Christmas shopping list, this time of year provides a prime opportunity for online predators to take advantage of unsuspecting online shoppers. That’s why it is essential that, in the midst of these busy few weeks, consumers take a moment to consider their online and mobile safety.

 “Phishing” and “Smishing” may sound like silly, harmless terms found only in a Dr. Seuss novel, but in reality, they are very legitimate and real threats to shoppers’ and mobile phone  users’ security. Have you ever received a legitimate-looking email asking you to click on a link for more information? Or how about a text message asking for a password or other personal information? Chances are, you may have been a target of “phishing” or “SMiShing,” and it happens all too often.

To put it simply, online scams commonly referred to as “phishing” are tricks Internet scammers use to "fish" for consumers' financial information and password data using fake company emails and websites. The scammers send emails that appear to be from well-known companies, containing links to web pages disguised to look nearly identical to legitimate companies' sites. But these scams can travel beyond your computer. "SMiShing" is a term used to describe phishing carried out via text message. SMiShing uses cell phone text messages to bait you to divulge personal information. You might receive a text that asks you to call an unfamiliar phone number, go to a URL to enter your personal information, or download software to your phone. If you access the URL in the text message or download any software to your device, you may be unknowingly installing a virus directly to your computer or phone.

Now the question is: how can you protect yourself from such scams? Here are some simple tips that can help keep you and your online security safe:

  • When making any online purchases, make sure that the website's address begins with “HTTPS,” and that a lock icon appears. You can click the icon to view security information and certificate details.
  • Be wary of any email requesting personal and/or financial information. AT&T does not send email requests to customers asking for personal account or credit card information.  Most other reputable organizations do not either.
  • Realize that Internet scammers can create realistic forgeries of websites, so avoid clicking on links in an unsolicited email message. Go directly to the company's website and fill out information there or call the company to verify that they are seeking information from you.
  • If you receive a text message that asks you to call a number you don't recognize or go to a web site to enter personal information, do not select the link embedded in the message. Simply delete the text message.


So this holiday season, as you frequently utilize your credit card to complete your online Christmas purchases, take the proper precautions to protect yourself from these threatening scams.

May your days be merry and bright, and may all your online purchases and personal information be locked up tight!

For more information on tools to keep you and your family safe, visit www.att.com/safety.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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