Tis the season to be jolly, to shop and to eat, to make friends and reconnect with old ones. It’s also the time that Santa and his crew are busy buying and wrapping presents for all the mums, dads, brothers, sisters and friends out there. But did you know that Santa has a secret squad, known only as the Data Elves, who spend the months leading up to Christmas whizzing around trying to make sure your personal data stays safe every time you type it into a shopping site? Well, this year the Data Elves contacted us directly, as they have some tips to help your data stay safe and keep them happy this year.
Be Careful With Your Receipts
November and December are what we like to call the ‘month of the killer receipts’. That’s because even if you don’t usually keep your receipts, Christmas causes people to hoard them. We want to make sure we have the receipt to take our Christmas lights back if they are faulty, and we squirrel away receipts for gifts just in case the gift isn’t wanted, or turns out to be a duplicate. But while the Data Elves say that it’s a good idea to keep these receipts, your wallet might not be the best place for them. With all the flurry of Christmas shopping and constant opening and closing, receipts can easily fall out of your wallet and find their way into someone else’s hands. A receipt might not seem like much, but it contains a lot of information about you that can be used for criminal activities, including defrauding stores into giving fake refunds. Store your receipts somewhere safe at home – like a small lockbox or a file, and make sure you shred them when the warranty has run out or the gift has proven a hit.
Stay Vigilant Online
Every year, the number of people doing their shopping online goes up, and this year is no exception. In fact, only 10% of people say they don’t do any of their shopping online at Christmas. With mobiles forming 80% of internet searches, online shopping has never been so easy. Needless to say, this is fairly common knowledge, and cyber criminals will use this information to their advantage. Try to avoid shopping online in public places this Christmas – most public Wi-Fi hotspots don’t encrypt their data, making it simple for criminals to pluck your information from the coffee shop next door. You should also be extra vigilant about what links you visit too. The Data Elves have discovered that many URL’s are shrunk to fit mobiles, which is great for usability, but not so much for security. It’s much harder to tell that a URL is fake when it has been shortened to a bit.ly link, because you can’t look out for the obvious clues like misspellings or odd domains. And because mobile devices don’t have the robust anti-virus software computers do, they are much more susceptible to malware infections and viruses. If you’re ever in doubt, type in the full link to where you want to go in your search bar and go there manually. It might take a little more time, but it’s worth it to save your device from infection.
Don’t Click On The Links!
As we have already mentioned, the Data Elves have noticed that more and more people are shopping online this Christmas, and that means millions of order confirmations are being sent to inboxes across the UK. But let us ask you this – do you know exactly what you’ve ordered, from where? It’s a busy time of year all round, and that means people are less guarded when it comes to emails like this. So scammers are capitalising on this by creating fake emails based around internet ordering. These will often say that there has been a problem with your order, or your payment was declined, providing you with a link to click on and re-enter your information. At passing glance to a busy person this will seem credible, when in reality they have just handed their credit card numbers and address to a criminal. Make sure you are extra careful when clicking in links in emails this month. If you receive an email like this, the Data Elves recommend not clicking on the link, but instead going to your web browser and visiting what you know to be the genuine site. If nothing is amiss with your order there, report the email to their fraud team and delete it.
Christmas is a time for happiness and joy and no one wants that to be ruined by a huge credit card bill turning up – especially when you didn’t spend the money. So make sure you take some basic steps to stay safe this Christmas, make sure the Data Elves stay happy and your data stays safe where it belongs. For more information about keeping your data safe, or to order some shredding sacks to destroy your personal information, get in touch today.