This Christmas, you may unknowingly put your credit rating at risk. We look at how ‘safe’ Australians really are online, and discover the ways you might wind up an identity theft victim and with a whole lot of bad credit history for Christmas.
We are connected to the world via the web at a rate like never seen before. And because of this, more people than ever will be shopping online for Christmas presents this year.
A. It’s easy…think parking, think crowds and think traipsing through shop after shop which for many people looks like too much effort.
B. It saves time…the Christmas period is shocking for stretching time to the limit -work’s busy, your social life’s busy and the last thing many have time to do is any of A!
C. It’s convenient…you can shop when you feel like it, at a time that works for you.
D. It’s more relaxed…you can do it in your pyjamas, and you can do it with a glass of scotch.
E. In some cases it may be cheaper…you can find cheap deals on goods, and you can also shop at different stores to get one-off items.
BUT a word of warning people….
If you’re not careful, it can be the most costly way to shop.
Some alarming statistics about Australian online shoppers have just come to light from security company McAfee. Their new Holiday Shopping Study has found that out of 1,005 Australian adults, one in 10 believe there is no risk in connecting to free Wi-Fi, and nearly one in three don’t know how to identify a secure shopping site.
If this is true – shoppers – get to know very quickly – or put down that ipad and get back to the shops otherwise you can not only risk losing money by paying through illegitimate websites but you could also download a virus or at worst be at risk of ruining your credit rating.
There are scammers out everywhere willing to take your money – and they love Christmas time. You’re feeling generous and you’re a bit distracted. From a fraudster’s point of view, that’s perfect!
McAfee’s study was featured in online business publication Smart Company’s article late last week titled ‘Virus experts warn: beware of the 12 online scams of Christmas’:
“What makes the finding worse is that a third of Australians have either personally fallen victim to an online scam, or know someone who has.
This is an extremely important finding, McAfee points out, as Australia has the highest rate of smartphone and tablet ownership out of all the countries surveyed including the United States and Canada.
An impressive 69% of Aussies use a smartphone, tablet, or both – so it makes all the more sense they need to stay safe online.
Yet we seem more willing than ever to disregard online safety. Over half of Australians say they’ll provide their name and age, and 38% say they’d give their phone number.
But 25% don’t even pay attention to permissions when downloading apps,” the article says.
Online fraud can be a basic scam to lure funds, but it is also becoming more and more sophisticated, and cyber-criminals are not only looking to steal credit card details, but are targeting your personal information.
Identity theft is getting much more sophisticated as profits get more lucrative. Many fraudsters are into building a profile of their victim – obtaining layers of information which allows them to access large amounts of credit in the victim’s name.
Some victims have had credit cards and loans taken out, even properties mortgaged in their names.
The difficulty for recovery when someone has tapped in to your credit rating is that generally you have defaults listed in your name, which basically means for 5 years your ability to obtain credit is ruined.
McAfee warns consumers in its blog ‘The top 12 scams of Christmas to watch out for’ – 2012. Take a look at make sure you don’t get caught out.
1) Social media scams—Many of us use social media sites to connect with family, friends, and co-workers over the holidays, and the cybercriminals know that this is a good place to catch you off guard because we’re all “friends,” right? Here are some ways that criminals will use these channels to obtain shopper’s gift money, identity or other personal information:
• Scammers use channels, like Facebook and Twitter, just like email and websites to scam consumers during the holidays. Be careful when liking Fan Pages, clicking on fake alerts from friends’ accounts that have been hacked, taking advantage of raffle’s, ads and deals that you get from “friends,” or installing suspicious “holiday deal” apps that give your private data away.
• Twitter ads and special discounts for popular gifts are especially popular, and utilize blind, shortened links, many of which could easily be malicious. Criminals are getting savvier with authentic-looking social ads and deals that take consumers to legitimate looking websites. In order to take advantage of the deals or contests, they ask them for personal information that can obtain a shopper’s credit card number, email address, phone number or home address.