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Avoiding Cyber Crime And Identity Theft: Christmas 2015 Edition

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, the mad dash for holiday gift shopping has officially kicked into full swing. Thanks to the added convenience of tablets and smart phones (and now watches), online shopping can make finishing your gift list a breeze, but buyers beware. Cyber Grinches are working overtime this time of year, and you could wake up Christmas morning with a stolen identity and/or an empty checking account. A recent report has shown that cyber fraud and identity thefts peak during this time of year, revealing that “a whopping 40 percent of annual online fraud happens during the last three months of the year.”   

Tips to avoid becoming a victim

Don’t compromise financial security and your own personal safety for that perfect gift or a discount.  Following some of these simple tips from The may help you avoid being a victim this holiday season:

  • Do not use the same password for more than one online account. For example, your bank account and your email account should never have the same passwords.
  • Be wary of suspicious social media posts. Social media is a top source for hacking due to thieves sending links through direct messages, tweets and wall posts, by advertising online discounts to friends and/or trusted sources of hacked accounts.
  • Don’t click on links in emails and on social media without confirming that they were sent intentionally, no matter the sender. Whether it’s an email from your boss, sister and/or husband, pick up the phone and confirm IRL (in real life) that the sender, indeed, sent you a link.
  • Only make online purchases from websites with SSL certificates. This can be confirmed by looking for an icon that looks like a padlock in the lower right-hand corner of the window.
  • Do not download mobile apps outside the Apple App Store, Amazon App Store and Google Play Store.
  • Confirm order history and shipping information via the online retailer’s website directly, not through email links.
  • The old saying is true… be wary of any online shopping deals that seem too good to be true.
  • Keep your computer’s applications and operating systems up to date.
  • Use anti-spyware and anti-malware software on your computer.

If you find yourself faced with fraudulent bank charges, the most important thing to do is: (1) act fast and (2) know your rights. The general rule of thumb, under the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, is that a consumer cannot be responsible for more than $50 of an online theft from their savings and checking account, and the bank is responsible for the remainder of the loss. But there is a time requirement to this protection. The consumer must report the theft within 60 days after the fraudulent activity appears on their statement. Unfortunately, online theft on consumer credit card accounts and business accounts are not as black and white. If the bank can show the theft was caused by something the account holder did, the bank may not be on the hook.  

Maryland identity theft and cyber crime resources

For additional information on how to be a safer online shopper to avoid cyber fraud visit Maryland’s Attorney General’s website on Internet Safety Tips or visit CBS News’ Fighting Fraud.

If you believe you are victim to cyber fraud and/or identity theft, these additional resources may assist you:

The information contained in this Website is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. No recipients of content from this site, clients or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in the site without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from an attorney licensed in the recipient’s state. The content of this Website contains general information and may not reflect current law, statutes, regulations, legal developments, verdicts or settlements. The Firm expressly disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all the contents of this Website.

About the Author

Charles GilmanCharles Gilman
Charles Gilman

As managing partner and co-founder of Gilman & Bedigian, it is my mission to help our clients recover and get their lives back on track. I strongly believe that every person who is injured by a wrongful act deserves compensation, and I will do my utmost to bring recompense to those who need and deserve it.


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