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The Word of the Month: Caution!

Posted: December 9, 2016

The holiday season brings much joy to many of us, but it also brings abundant opportunities for scoundrels, rascals, thieves and assorted ne’er do-wells. A generous dollop of caution mixed with your cider will help you enjoy the holidays and the next few months without the headache of a compromised credit card or computer account.

The holidays can a busy and hectic time – at home and at work – with lots of deadlines and distractions.  It is also a time when many people use their credit cards more heavily, and the shipping and receiving of packages skyrockets.  Preying upon your distraction, rapscallions will be sending an even greater number of fraudulent email messages to you over the next few weeks.  These message will appear to come from legitimate organizations and businesses – banks, credit card companies, parcel delivery companies, charities and retailers.  All have the same purpose – to trick you into revealing sensitive credit card or account password information.

Be cautious every day, but be especially cautious now.  If you have not ordered or shipped anything, be skeptical of messages from shipping companies inviting you to ‘click here for delivery information.’  If you don’t have a credit card with a bank that sends you a balance inquiry link, then don’t click the link.  Give two or three thoughts to every click, in every email, every day, but be even more cautious during this especially busy time.

Another avenue being seen more this year than in years past is the proliferation of smartphone apps that masquerade as legitimate retail apps – Macy’s, Amazon, BestBuy and others – but instead of being a true shopping app for the retailer, they are a sophisticated ruse to capture your personal information – credit card or social media login.  More information on this scam is available in the article from the newspaper USA Today linked here:  http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/nation-now/2016/11/13/fake-apps-fraud-take-joy-out-holiday-shopping/93657840/

Penn State’s Office of Information Security has a good website with phishing details, current examples and – hopefully you don’t need them – tips on what to do if you fall victim.  Check here for this valuable resource:  http://phishing.psu.edu/