Online Safety Tips for the Holiday Season


Nothing brings out the best in humanity more than Christmas. With tidings of comfort and joy, the spirit of the season encourages us to open our pocketbooks to those in need, volunteer our time to worthwhile causes, and be appreciative for all the blessings that family and friendship bestow upon us. It truly is a magical time of year.

Despite these warm feelings, in 2017, online fraud attempts increased by an astounding 22% during the holiday season. In North America, fraud was highest on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve, with the average fraudulent transaction valued at just over $220 USD. In 2016, 1 out of every 97 transactions was fraudulent, while in 2017, this number increased to 1 out of every 85 transactions.

With 2018 holiday e-commerce sales expected to grow by 16% this year to $124 billion, the importance of embracing good online safety habits is paramount to preventing any undesirable surprises in January. Tips abound for keeping yourself safe online, but if you follow our simple recommendations, you can remain confident that your private information will be kept safely out of the hands of unscrupulous cybercriminals determined to ruin your holiday season.

Online Shopping Safety Tips

Before you enter your payment information on an e-commerce site, look for an SSL Certificate. It’s a digital certificate that authenticates the identity of a website and encrypts information sent to its server. You can verify a website’s SSL Certification in a few ways:

1) Look for the addition of an “S” to the “http://” at the beginning of a site’s URL.

2) Look for visual cues such as a lock symbol and green colour in the site’s address bar.

3) Look for the addition of security seals during the checkout process. These seals are recognized marks which provide evidence that a retailer’s identity has been verified. Common security seals include Norton, McAfee, and TRUSTe.

4) For additional security, use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) when you browse the internet. VPNs allow you to create a secure connection to another network, encrypting your data and shielding your activity from cybercriminals.

Social Media Safety Tips

Most social media criminals utilize phishing scams to trick you into divulging sensitive personal information. Whether it’s fake messages asking you to verify your credit card and bank information, fake links which when clicked on download malware onto your phone or computer, or fake discounts which offer you irresistible offers in exchange for your private information, social media sites are awash with fraudulent activity. To remain one step ahead of cybercriminals, follow these simple practices:

1) Closely manage your privacy settings by ensuring that your posts are only shared with friends and family.

2) Be selective when accepting a friend. Try to only “friend” people you know in the real world.

3) Be very careful when clicking on social media links. You should be wary of offers with the word “free” in them or offers that sound too good to be true even if they are from your friends.

4) Never respond to social media messages from people you don’t know.

5) Don’t reveal private information through social media and always be suspicious of anyone who asks for your personal information online.

6) Be on the lookout for donation scams. Many criminals try to take advantage of your generosity by using fake charity requests. Don’t click on links in emails requesting donations. Instead contribute to the organization by navigating directly to their website.

Email Safety

Like social media, email is a perfect medium for executing phishing scams. To keep yourself safe, don’t blindly click on embedded links in emails. Although the URL from these links may appear to be from a reputable and familiar site, they can redirect you to a fake site that looks almost identical to the official one. If the email looks suspicious, either delete it or navigate directly to the website using your preferred search engine.


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