The holiday season can be hectic, and with travel, family and festivities, it can be easy to let cyber safety take a back seat. However, it’s important to always keep security top of mind: Fraudsters take advantage of an increase in online shopping and traveling, and a decrease in attention, to target potential victims. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, people reported losing $1.48 billion to fraud in 2018, an increase of 38% over 2017. “The top reports in 2018 were imposter scams, debt collection, and identity theft.” 1 Irrespective of where you are in the world, be on the alert for suspicious emails, calls or activity, especially if the sender requests personal or financial information or requests to remote in to your computer.

Ensuring cyber safety in the following key areas can help secure your personal information and help protect you against fraud:

  • Be wary of suspicious emails, text messages and social media posts from people or companies you don’t know. Fraudsters take advantage of the holiday season to increase their phishing attempts, so it’s important to keep in mind that messages can include malware links or lead to online surveys that collect personal information.
  • Avoid charity scams. During year-end giving, charities solicit donations from existing and potential donors. Always validate any change in payment instructions by calling the recipient on a known number, especially if the change is made at the last minute. Refer to Charity Navigator, America's largest independent charity evaluator, for guidelines to help protect against online scams, and ensure your donations are reaching the causes you wish to support.
  • Be careful before downloading apps for well-known retailers, financial firms and products. Check app logos and descriptions for misspellings, missing letters or poor grammar, and look for other red flags, such as poor reviews, newly launched apps or links to apps from other retailers.
  • Be careful with gift cards, Scammers are now using the same tactics they use to steal credit card information to steal gift card balances

  • Create strong and unique passwords across shopping and financial websites, and enable multifactor authentication wherever offered. Consider a password management tool to help manage the passwords you have across online accounts.
  • Do not click on ads, email or pop-up links, and type verified shopping and financial websites into the address bar instead of clicking on links from other sources.
  • Make purchases only from reputable, secure sites (i.e., those with an https:// URL prefix); log out of websites and close the browser window after you complete a purchase.

  • Treat transactions on payment apps as you would cash. Only send money to people you know and trust, and confirm the recipient’s username/contact information prior to completing the transaction.
  • Set up online alerts on your financial accounts, and regularly monitor your credit and debit cards and bank statements for suspicious activity.
  • Check your statements and credit reports. Remain vigilant and inquire about any suspicious activity to catch any attempt at identity theft before it escalates.
  • Watch out for “skimming” devices on credit card readers, and opt to use the chip reader instead of the magnetic stripe for in-store purchases. A telltale sign that a skimmer has been attached to an ATM is that the card reader is loose; ensure you shield the keypad when entering your PIN or ZIP code.

  • Keep your plans private. Do not post your intended travel plans, itinerary or location updates on social media prior to or during your trip. Create a social media agreement with family members to ensure they do the same, especially with children and teenagers traveling with you.
  • Use trusted travel and vacation home rental services, and only message and send funds through the site’s payment and messaging tools. Don’t fall for deals that seem too good to be true; domains are inexpensive and easy for fraudsters to procure in order to create fake travel sites that capture your information—and money.
  • Avoid using public WiFi at hotels, airports, cafés and on planes, as they are more likely to be compromised or spoofed.
  • Consider installing and using a “virtual private network” (VPN)—on all mobile devices and computers before connecting to any WiFi network. A VPN creates an encrypted connection between your smartphones and computers and the VPN server.

Remember, J.P. Morgan will never:

  • Ask you to log in to the same computer with more than one user’s credentials
  • Ask you to repeatedly submit login credentials
  • Contact you about online problems, such as logging in, if you haven’t contacted us first

For more of our insights, please visit our Cybersecurity site by clicking here.

1 Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information: “The top frauds of 2018.”