Seriously, who is Santa? And why are there so many Santa Clauses in stores and on street corners? Could it be a massive case of identity theft? And how can you protect yourself against imposters?
Well, from what we know, Santa is an old bearded man, distinctively dressed, and most of the time residing in an undisclosed location at the North Pole. A toy-maker and philanthropist by the trade, he keeps a few pet reindeers that help him travel faster than the speed of light (breaking the laws of physics) on Christmas Eve. How hard is it to fake that?
Santa’s been a victim of chronic identity theft for years now. But who could have thought that those con artists are not just after him? In fact, if you are shopping online right now, they could be after you.
Here are a few things you could do to make sure you don’t go down Santa’s path:
Secure your computer
- If a wireless network is how you access the Internet at home, having a firewall is a must.
- Do not leave your wireless network open (secure it with WPA encryption) and create a strong password, as the potential attackers could not only use your network but also view your website usage.
- Never open suspicious email attachments from untrusted and sometimes even trusted sources. Ignore messages telling you to log in and review your account. Always visit the business website by typing in the URL.
Protect your mobile devices
- Secure your mobile and tablet with passwords and encryption in case they get stolen.
- Download a GPS tracking app to easily find your mobile in case it gets lost.
- Research before downloading free apps to your device. App Genome Project, created by LookOut, says that 29% of free applications on Android and 33% on iPhone can access your location. Whereas 8% of free applications on Android and 14% on iPhone can access users’ contact data.
Watch out for phishing websites
- They may look like legitimate business sites, asking for a username and password, your name, address, bank account number, driver’s license or telephone number, health insurance ID or other private information.
- Always give out the minimum amount of information; if in doubt, just call their number to ask for more details.
- Monitor your credit and bank accounts closely.
Socialise on Social responsibly
- Thanks to social networking sites, people are now putting loads of personal information online – something that some of your friends probably shouldn’t know about you, and some of the attackers are dying to know. So be vigilant.
- Set your privacy settings at the highest level and do not share facts like your exact birth date, including the year, or info that could be used to answer your security questions.
In the meantime, if you are in doubt about the identity of a man you met on the street wearing a festive costume – be nice to him, as he might be the real deal … Unless he’s really drunk and there’s plenty of him like in this London SantaCon video: