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Share three gifts of wisdom with online Santas at the office

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Online sales on Cyber Monday jumped 30.3 percent, according to International Business Machines Corp., which analyzes transactions for 500 U.S. retailers. Americans spent $21 billion shopping online since Black Friday alone, indicating a healthy trust in the e-commerce.

While shopping from the office browser during lunch hour is a trend that's going viral faster than the Gangnam dance, this doesn't mean cybercriminals are taking a holiday hiatus. On the contrary, the probability of online fraud and is higher: Even big name portals like Ebay and Craigslist are replete with fly-by-night storefronts promising deals.

Last year, consumers lost $1.1. billion in online shopping scams. That would leave quite a hole in anyone's stocking. As we become wiser to online crime, malware evolves and more ways are devised to infiltrate your data, computer system or bank account. If your employees are not-so-secret Santas, make it easy to keep them sharp: Rather than listing all the scams of Christmas on a scroll longer than this year's Naughty list, we offer our three finest gifts of cyberawareness wisdom to keep your office network peaceful and bright.

1. When paying online, never wire funds via Western Union or other wire-service. Purchase online items using a credit card, preferably one with a set limit. You can dispute charges if you get scammed. This is not always the case with debit cards. Continually monitor your credit card activity. Most financial institutions have an online service for you to do this. If you see something suspicious, report it immediately. Most card services have a 24-hour service, and they can help you determine if the activity is authorized.

2. Make sure the transaction is secure. Remember, that little lock icon is there to make you feel better -- it doesn't necessarily mean the site is secure. A simple way to check the security of the site is in the URL upon checkout. If it doesn't start with "https://" it may not be secure. If you have a concern, or it's your first time shopping at the site, contact the company and ask them what type of encryption they use. A legitimate business will tell you.

3. Don't open holiday e-cards. Whether from a friend or from legitimate-looking online store offering coupons, a greeting card in your inbox entices you to click on a link. The link could lead to a fraudulent site offering a deal if you log-in and enter your credit card information. Or it can launch unwanted downloads of malicious software onto your computer or network that can copy your data or log your keystrokes, making any future online purchases unsafe.

In the key of keeping the holiday cheery, these three gifts of wisdom will go a long way when shared with loved ones, coworkers and your social network. Extend goodwill to all by reporting Internet crime to the FBI at http://www.fbi.gov/sandiego. Alerting your older neighbors about online scams will probably bring you closer to peace on earth than caroling.

*****

Submitted by Taranet Inc. – The Art of Risk Management; www.taranet.com

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