Stay safe online ahead of the festive season

Stay safe online ahead of the festive season

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — The holidays are right around the corner, which means online shopping will be in full swing in no time. CPA Garrett Wagner offers tips on how to stay safe:

How can people stay safe and avoid being hacked?

We want to be able to shop online, it’s part of what we do today, and we need to remember some general best practices. The thing with most hackers, they are not sophisticated, they want you to make a mistake and one of the most common mistakes they try and make is through what is called phishing. This is where an email or a text via social media messages is sent to you and it’s going to look a little real, but it’s not. A good example of this would be when you get an email from your bank asking you to log into your account, or a message from your friend asking you to send him some money. And that email might look real, and that email address might say the bank’s name, but if you look closely, that email address will be a bunch of random characters “@gmail.com.” They try to make it look real and try to trick you.

What else can people do to stay alert?

With that, don’t click on any emails or text messages with links and messages from people you don’t know. Once again, they’re just hoping to kind of trick you into it. They’re hoping that we’re busy, we’re not going to look too closely, we’re just going to click that link. And once again, these links will take us to like fake websites that are made to look real, but they are not. Real hackers just want to capture more information, steal your identity and just ruin your vacation.

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For those who may be looking to buy or sell online in Rochester, do you have any tips to avoid getting hacked?

You can do it safely. You can survive the holidays with this because not everyone is out to commit fraud. So some general tips: If you’re looking to sell something, always check out the profile. If the profile was just created, like minutes ago with one photo, it’s probably fake and they’re just trying to trick you. If you are the buyer, never send cash in advance. Again, don’t let them say, “Hey, I’m going to send you an email, click that email link to send me money to one of the payment apps.” There is another side to fraud. Another common thing to watch out for is bad grammar or English that doesn’t seem right. And really, the best advice is just trust your gut. If something feels a little off. It probably is. If you have any questions, you can always contact your favorite CPA. We are happy to help you stay safe.

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