Protect Your Accounts from Post-Holiday Cybercrime
The holidays are over, but that doesn’t mean you should stop protecting yourself from cybercrime. Fraudsters get busy during the holiday season, harvesting information from the credit cards of generous shoppers. After the holidays, they use the data they’ve collected to wreak havoc on their victim’s accounts.
Some Surprising Cybercrime Stats
In a November 2016 report, Kapersky Labs noted that records for online sales during the holidays - including Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday - are consistently broken by a significant percentage every year. This increase in online sales opens up greater opportunity for financial phishing— identity theft carried out online using malware or malicious websites to steal login credentials and account information.
The key findings in the Kapersky Labs report showed that financial phishing during the holiday seasons is 9% higher than it is during the rest of the year. They also noted that phishing attacks are higher against online shopping outlets, and fraudsters are spreading financial malware and phishing pages with greater frequency during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and on the days surrounding Christmas.
Dangers during and after the Holidays
The danger during the holiday season is that people tend to be less likely to notice additional transactions on their accounts. Because people are making such a high volume of purchases during the holidays, they are less likely to be concerned about unfamiliar charges, which may just have been forgotten in the rush.
The danger after the holiday season is that the data that was mined from a consumer’s card during the holiday season can be used to access their accounts or open new accounts under their identity. Once opened, these accounts can cause havoc on the consumer’s credit score and wrack up charges that the victim is then responsible for.
How to Uncover Fraud before it Gets out of Hand
The lesson here is that you should monitor your accounts and your credit score year round to make sure your information is safe. Here’s a quick checklist to help you keep up to date on activities in your accounts:
- Check your credit score three times a year (you can get a free credit report every 12 months from each of three reporting companies: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax).
- Monitor your credit card activity as often as possible (checking daily is not too often, but set up a schedule that you can keep)
- Set up alerts on your cards, if possible (alerts let you know when your card has been used to make a transaction)