Protect Your Computer This Holiday Season

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screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-9-22-54-amBy Terry Rogers

During the holidays, you may decide to do some online shopping rather than fight the crowded malls and department stores. While ordering from the comfort of your home and having gifts delivered to your door is convenient, it can also open your computer up to danger.

“One way to protect yourself while shipping online is to checkout as a guest rather than register an account with a site,” Bryan Eshelman of Response Computer Group said. “Registering an account requires that you provide personal information that could lead to identity theft. It is also important to use different passwords for banking and financial sites than you do for social media and other sites that require account set up.” Mr. Eshelman also said that it is important not to save credit card information on any site or make an online purchase from a public Wi-fi network like a coffee shop.

Always review credit card statements carefully to be sure all items charged were your purchases. If possible, use a credit card for online purchases rather than a debit card. Because debit cards withdraw directly from a bank account, a thief could empty the account before you realize they have stolen the number. Credit cards provide more protection against fraudulent charges. If you receive a phone call or email that ask you to click a link due to a problem with your account, check to be sure it was actually sent by your bank or credit card company by checking the actual sender’s address. Most banks and credit card companies have 24-hour customer service so you can call to confirm an email or call is legitimate. If you get a pop-up that says your computer is infected, do not call any numbers on the pop-up. Response Computer Group can help you eliminate the pop-up safely.

“New PCs and laptops come with a trial version of antivirus software,” Pat Coulter of Response Computer Group said. “This will expire in a month or two and leave your computer vulnerable to becoming infected with malware and potentially unwanted programs (PUPS). Microsoft Office is usually included as well but is often a trial version. You want to be sure you always have antivirus software that has not expired and is up-to-date.” Mr. Coulter said that if you get a new computer for Christmas, RCG can help transfer your existing settings and data from your old computer for just $50.”

Phishing emails are one of the most common issues faced by computer users during the holidays. These are emails or notices that appear to come from legitimate sources, including charitable request or holiday functions. Response Computer Group says that it is important to be careful of emails containing attachments that appear to be holiday cards or greetings unless you are sure you know who sent them. It is also important to remember that smartphones and tablets can also become victims of infection.

“It is important to use care when installing apps,” Mr. Eshelman said. “Never download or accept apps from unknown sources.” For more information about keeping your computer safe during the holidays, contact Response Computer Group at 800-957-4724, Extension 200.