Tips for steering clear of cybercriminals during the holiday season

Holiday shopping is about to pick-up, but while you may be looking for online deals, officials warn plenty of others are looking for literal online steals.

"They know that this time of year is when primary buying is, and they do a pretty effective job of making sure that they get a piece of that buying pie," explained Virginia Chief Information Security Officer Michael Watson.

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He’s not the only one sounding the alarm. The FBI tweeted a warning Monday as well, saying in part, "cybercriminals have historically viewed holidays as attractive times to strike."

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So, what can you do to stay safe? And what should you look out for? Watson said, first, think before you click – and to watch out for ads and emails encouraging you to click links. He added that using a credit card may offer more financial protection to consumers than using a debit card. 

Plus, Watson said using a card that’s not connected to your main bank account is a good idea. Also, among other things, he recommended using a secure Wi-Fi connection, instead of public Wi-Fi you may have access to if, for instance, you’re trying to compare prices while inside a store.

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"When a mistake does happen, don’t be afraid to ask about it. It happens all the time, and even if you’re wrong and it happens to be a real transaction, it’s ok. Report it, talk to somebody about it, whether it’s your credit card company or even law enforcement if it’s significant enough. Don’t hesitate to reach out, they’re there to help you," Watson said.

For more information about way to shop safe this holiday season, you can click here.