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Holiday Security Alert

Scammers love chaos, and they are in heaven this holiday season. With shortages and high prices sending everyone scrambling for gifts while we dash to the end of the business year and try to make plans to see family and friends, scammers have an abundance of opportunities to find a weak spot in anyone’s online armor and penetrate for all you’re worth. Here are our steps to stop the scams.

First, recognize that all communications platforms – email, text, and phone calls – are vulnerable. We’ve talked extensively about the subtle ways that fake emails can look like the real thing: an extra letter, a common misspelling, the addition of a number, etc. Look closely at any email address that has a link. If you think the email might raise a legitimate concern, open your internet browser and type a URL that you know is the real corporate website. Remember, too, that text messages have links, and they can be fakes. Don’t respond; follow the same procedure you would for an email. And be careful about phone calls. Instead of engaging in a conversation, hang up and look for a phone number from the company’s website.

Be wary of any message about a delivery problem with something you supposedly ordered. The sender is trying to get you to click on a link to resolve your problem, but you’ll be creating a new problem. The link could contain malware to get into your computer, and it could also be used to get personal financial data that can be used for fraud.

The same goes for a message about a gift card for you. You may be asked to log into a fake account to provide your real financial information. Don’t click; hit delete.

In all these situations and other similar ones, your first line of defense is a sharp eye and common sense. Look closely at email addresses and phone numbers for messages and at phone numbers for calls. Phone numbers are easy to spoof, and a call from abroad can look like it’s a domestic one. If you take any kind of action during the call, you may not have any legal recourse afterward because our enforcement agencies don’t have the jurisdiction to go after the scammers.

You can help protect your information, too, by using two-factor authentication wherever possible. In most cases, two-factor authentication involves sending a code to a cell phone as a text message, but it can also involve sending it by email. You’ll be required to enter the code to continue to the website.

And while security is at the front of your mind, it’s a good idea to make sure your security is up to date for your Wi-Fi router and all the devices that connect to it. Make sure you’ve downloaded and installed all software updates for all your devices. The updates almost always include security patches and bug fixes as well as performance improvements.

We can help you make sure your security systems are up to date and answer any questions you have about two-factor authentication. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us with your questions or to make an appointment. We’ll get those concerns off your plate so you’re free to concentrate on finding fraudulent messages and getting rid of them.