We’re primed to get suckered this holiday season. Tight budgets, wishful thinking that we can get a screaming deal if we hurry, and plain old impulsive spending are a dangerous mix. Scammers know this.
One example: Clicking an online ad, maybe for an ornament featuring a Santa with twinkling eyes and a smile hidden under a cloth mask, may put you at risk for identity theft — or maybe just for a bad deal.
Kathy Stokes, AARP’s director of fraud prevention programs, says she once bought “the funniest T-shirt from a Facebook ad. It never came.” That was before Stokes began working in fraud prevention.
So how do we prepare for battle? Three ways: Protect our mobile devices, recognize and avoid risks, and guard against identity theft.
Your device is only as safe as you make it. Avoiding free Wi-Fi at coffee shops and other public places is a good first step, but also:
1. Secure devices with a difficult-to-guess password and/or biometrics. If you can use a fingerprint or facial recognition to sign in, that’s best. If two-factor authentication is available, use it.
2. Heed notifications to update your software. Many times, updates improve security. This is true whether it’s your operating system, virus protection or an app.