The festive season is my favorite time of the year. It is a time to celebrate and reconnect with our family, friends and community and the one time in the year where the whole country feels like it is on holiday. In the Southern Hemisphere, it is also called the silly season, on account of the higher than usual number of social engagements, slow down of work activities and general holiday mood.
Unfortunately, it is also a time where fraudsters and cybercriminals are coming out in full force, trying to take advantage of the uptake in online shopping, deliveries and more lackadaisical attitudes. Here, I have listed a few points to keep safe this festive season:
- Look out for scams that really increase at this time of year, particularly deals that sound too good to be true, discounts that are amazing or free gift cards – nothing in life comes free and if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
- Be careful of fake delivery notices – many of us will order online this year and criminals know that, trying to catch us with emails or text messages pretending to be from the shipment company.
- The South African Post Office has been warning citizens about phishing scams claiming to be import customs duties. The fake emails state that a package could not be delivered because of outstanding customs duties, and it contains a link that leads victims to a payment page not operated by the SA Post Office.
- Be careful regarding charity organisations – when we reflect at the end of the year about who to support, we have to make sure we transfer our donations to the intended recipients. Many charity organisations pop up now that could be bogus or fake. Make sure you know who is behind it and that you are paying a reputable organisation.
- If you or the kids get any new tech gadgets this year, secure them right away, such as changing default passwords.
- Remember the basics: keep all systems, apps and plugins up to date, especially your antivirus software, make sure you use multi-factor authentication wherever possible and do not trust anything you have not 100% verified or expected.
By following these mainly common-sense practices, you should be able to sit back, relax and enjoy the festive season in full swing. Happy Holidays!