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How to Protect Yourself and Your Identity in 2022 During the Online Shopping Season
With Guest Blogger and Cyber Safety Expert, Sandra Estok

The holidays are here! Bringing joy, time off from school and work, and days spent with friends and loved ones. But they can also bring added stressors. Whether you're stretching your financial resources to afford gifts, struggling with travel plans, or rushing to get everything ready before taking some time off, the extra costs and stress could make you more distracted and feel overwhelmed. Why does this matter?

When we're distracted and trying to multitask, we become more susceptible to hackers, scammers, and Cybermonsters. Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to steal money or access sensitive data. The holidays are an opportunity they can exploit because of our desire to get ahead and find the best deals for fear of missing out. Cybermonsters could trick us into giving up personal information, credit card numbers, or bank account credentials.

One of the most common ways cyber attacks can affect us during the holidays is through phishing messages. Have you seen emails or texts with offers, coupons, and too-good-to-be-true deals? Unfortunately, they could contain malicious software, "malware," infecting the phone, computer, or network if we click on them. Luckily, we got you covered with a simple and powerful practice to protect you!

How Do I Protect Myself During the Online Shopping Season?

The Be I AM (Be Intentional, Aware, and Mindful) is a simple practice you can incorporate and avoid becoming a victim during this shopping season.

Be Intentional

Being Intentional means acting purposefully. Setting an intention can help with your budget and your safety. For example, you might think you're getting a great deal because you've found a coupon code, but sometimes those codes aren't legitimate. If you see a discount on an item you want, check out the seller's reviews and ratings to ensure you're dealing with someone reputable. Follow these three recommendations to Be Intentional:

1.) Decide where you will shop ahead of time and bookmark the websites to save time and avoid visiting a fake website during peak busy times.

2.) Visit the main website instead of clicking an offer over email or text. Beware of online marketplaces you've never heard of before. If the offer looks too good to be true, it probably is!

3.) Activate text alerts for all of your bank transactions. If there's a purchase you didn't make, you can act and intentionally contact your financial institution right away.

Be Aware

Being Aware means knowing and applying cyber safety practices to keep you and your loved ones safe online. Follow these three recommendations to Be Aware:

1.) Update the phone, computer, or tablet you will use during the shopping season. Hence, you close all the security holes and prevent Cybermonsters from ruining your holidays.

2.) Crossing a few items from the list can be tempting while we are out and about. Public Wi-Fi is dangerous, and not recommended to log into your accounts. If you must, use your phone carrier connection and a VPN.

3.) If you are shopping in stores, check the card-skimming devices that might be attached to card readers. Use the tap-to-pay or digital wallets on your phone or pay in cash. Bonus tip: avoid paying with debit cards!

Be Mindful

Be Mindful means being fully present. Take a few seconds to notice what's around you, whether you're online or offline. Enjoy the beauty that the holiday season brings besides shopping. Follow these three recommendations to Be Mindful:

1.) Rest and hydrate!

2.) Breathe! yes, practice a few slow and deep breathing exercises to regain balance and feel calm. Inhale and count 1-2-3-4, then exhale and count 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. Resume shopping with a fresh mind!

3.) Notice, celebrate or give yourself a high five when you find the perfect gift for a loved one or yourself! It feels amazing.

Be Intentional, Aware, and Mindful. Be I AM. Be I AM now!

The holidays mean so much more than spending money shopping! What are you doing? Where are you traveling and enjoying time with friends and loved ones?

For more from Sandra Estok, CLICK HERE, and learn if your business is safe from cybermonsters. 

Looking for gift ideas?  Check out our CEO's Favorite Things from the 2021 holiday season by clicking here! 

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