The North Carolina Department of Information Technology is advising people to carefully monitor solicitations and other communications they receive during the coming holiday season.
Cybercriminals often take advantage of people’s generosity and distractions during the holiday season to gain access to their data, said State Chief Risk Officer Maria Thompson. She encourages people to remain vigilant and to follow good cyber hygiene at home and at work.
“Criminals often pose as volunteers or charitable organizations in an attempt to steal your private data or your money,” Thompson said. “Also remember to check on your elderly loved ones. They are often an easy target. Everyone should be careful when giving money or sharing information online even when working with what may seem like a well-established organization.”
To help stop cybercriminals:
- Carefully look at email and web addresses. Cybercriminals will make them look as legitimate as possible, often using variations of spellings. The URL may have a different domain – such as .net or .com – when it should be .gov instead.
- Do not click on links in emails from anyone unless you know and have verified the sender of the email.
- Take time to look at the sender’s email address. Do not click on any links until you are certain the organization is real. Check the organization’s website for its contact information and use sites such as www.charitynavigator.org to verify a charity organization.
- Change your password immediately if you believe you were the victim of a scam.
- Do not use public WiFi to do your shopping. However, if you do, ensure you use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) as an added layer of protection to your communication.
- Check your bank account for suspicious transactions, even those of small amounts.
- Make sure your all anti-malware software is up-to-date and that you have enacted the anti-phishing software provided by your email client.
For more information on holiday frauds and scams, or to report any, please contact the North Carolina Consumer Protection Division in the Attorney General’s Office by visiting ncdoj.gov or by calling 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina.