If you are like eight out of ten Americans 1 , then you know and participate in the convenience of online shopping. While online shopping is easy, budget-friendly, and a “shopping trip” can be accomplished from the comfort of your couch, it is important to be aware of the increased risks of online shopping, especially during the holiday season. Cyber Monday is the biggest online shopping day of the year in the United States 2 , consistently breaking records year after year, and hackers capitalize on this fact.
Did you know that last year there were 6,000 scams disguised as Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales? 3 In addition, in 2017, there was a 57.5% increase in attempted cyber-attacks on Cyber Monday 4 compared to other days of the year, and this statistic is only projected to grow.
During the time window from Black Friday until the end of the year, online shoppers will be
particularly exposed to phishing scams, unsecure malware, pop-ups and unsecure websites that
could result in serious, long-term implications. At Penny Insurance Agency, it is our
responsibility to ensure our clients are secure from cyber-attacks and equipped with the
knowledge of how to avoid them. With Cyber Monday quickly approaching, we’ve gathered
some helpful practices to stay safe and maintain your cyber hygiene to steer clear of hackers
this holiday season.
Change Bank Account Passwords After Online Shopping
We can’t emphasize this enough– change your passwords. If you plan to shop online during Cyber Monday, remember to change your online bank account passwords on Giving Tuesday. Hackers are working non-stop during this vulnerable time window to steal sensitive information, and one of the easiest ways to prevent being hacked is to simply change your passwords. That’s not all though… make sure to never re-use old passwords and that your passwords are different on each account and are difficult strength passwords. In case you were wondering, your name or birthday just won’t cut it.
Always Use Two-Factor Identification/Authentication
Two-factor Identification/authentication is an easy safety net you can utilize to protect your information. Setting up two-factor authentication doubles your protection and makes it twice as hard for hackers to steal your information. Be sure to activate two-factor authentication all on your accounts and devices before online shopping this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Never Click on Pop-Up Links
The world of digital advertising is continuing to grow with digital ads becoming more interactive
and “following” consumers around with relevant products. While this is convenient and
trending, be wary of pop-up ads. Cyber attackers are becoming increasingly more sophisticated
in their tactics and can disguise themselves to appear safe and reputable. To prevent this, just
go directly to sites manually instead of clicking your way there through a pop-up.
Be Cautious of Free Wi-fi
One of the most common ways hackers inch their way into your devices to steal information is through Wi-Fi. Be very careful with where you connect to Wi-Fi, especially free Wi-Fi, and keep an eye out for any suspicious activity after connecting to a Wi-Fi source. If you’re able, use your own personal data on your mobile device instead of connecting to Wi-Fi as one way to prevent this type of phishing scam.
Always Check the Site Before Making Purchases
One of the simplest ways to prevent your credit card number from being stolen is to double- check your browser for the letters “https” before the website URL. Simply double-click on the URL tab at the top of your browser and check for “https” before submitting any purchases. Getting in the habit of verifying web browsers is an easy and simple practice for good cyber hygiene.
In light of Black Friday and Cyber Monday– the busiest online shopping day of the year– it is imperative to practice proper cyber hygiene habits to avoid common mistakes that can lead to serious damage to your private information. These tips do not just apply to individuals, though. Business owners need to be especially aware and proactive as well, because data breaches can cost them their reputation, legal fees, and more.
If you need assistance protecting your information or would like to learn more, contact us today by filling out our contact form or call us directly. We’re here to help.
Tips for a Safe and Successful Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is the “kick off” of the holiday season, full of gatherings with family and friends, eating delicious home-cooked food, and a highlight for serious shoppers on Black Friday. Unfortunately, it is also one of the seasons with the highest accidents. With Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and the holidays right around the corner, we’ve compiled the most common risks that occur during this time of year and how to steer clear liability disasters this season.
Keep an Eye on the Turkey
Did you know that turkeys are the top cause of house fires? To add to this staggering statistic, Thanksgiving is the peak day for cooking fires, more than any other day of the year. U.S. fire departments fought 1,570 home cooking fires in 2016 alone on Thanksgiving Day.¹ Home cooking fires are also the leading cause of fire deaths during this season. Make sure to keep an eye on your turkey as well as other dishes. It may be easy for food dishes to be put on the “backburner” when friends and family are visiting, but be sure to check your food periodically to reduce the risk of a house fire. For your peace of mind, verify that your home insurance policy has thorough coverage so that you can fully enjoy your holiday and feast.
Limit Liability Mishaps
Between tipsy guests, steaming dishes, red-hot stovetops, and backyard football games, there are many things that could cause a liability mishap. If a guest gets burned from hot dishes, breaks an arm from a backyard football game, or causes harm to himself or others from drinking too much, you could be held responsible for legal fees, medical fees, and more. Limit the exposure to potential risks and be sure to also keep an eye on younger guests, as children can also be involved or be the cause of common mishaps. Protect yourself from a liability catastrophe by ensuring you have exhaustive liability insurance in case a mishap happens at your home.²
Thanksgiving weekend is one of the craziest weekends on the road throughout the entire year. In fact, car accidents spike 20% on Thanksgiving Day and 34% on Black Friday.³ Granted, most accidents during this weekend occur in parking lots because of the holiday shopping rush, but they can still happen out on the roads and be serious or fatal. If you’re braving the rush and shopping during this time, be extra careful on the roads and make sure your car insurance is comprehensive in case an accident was to happen. In addition, if you are traveling to visit friends or family, be wary of increased traffic and plan your routes ahead of time. For extra protection and peace of mind, insure your trip with one of our agents today.
Keep these potential mishaps in mind this Thanksgiving season. If you’re unsure of what your insurance policies cover, we are happy to help. Give us a call or fill out our contact form contact form today. From our family to yours, we wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving.
Safety Tips for Teen Drivers
While it may be frightening to unleash your freshly-licensed teen onto the roads, there are many proactive ways to ensure their safety and your peace of mind. At Penny Insurance Agency, we consider our clients family, and we want to look out for yours. Share these tips with your teen driver as they venture out onto the roads this fall, especially with increased holiday traffic over the next couple of months.
In serious car accidents caused by teen drivers, 21% were caused by speeding.1 Research shows that teens are much more likely to speed and spin a vehicle out of control than adults are. Speed dramatically increases the risks of causing accidents, which can also be a liability disaster. “Teens driving 40 mph in a 30 mph zone may think they’re “only” going 10 mph over the posted speed limit. But that “small” increase in speed translates to a 78 percent increase in collision energy – that’s nearly double.”2 It’s just not worth it.
Seatbelts Save Lives
The saying “click it or ticket” is a catchy way to remember to always wear a seatbelt. “At least 46% of teen drivers and passengers who died in passenger vehicle crashes in 2017 were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Research shows that seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half.”3 Given the most current research, wearing a seatbelt is the easiest way to decrease fatal car accidents. Remind your teen that wearing their seatbelt can cut injuries or death risks in half.
Don’t Drive Distracted
Texting, music, and extra passengers can all result in distracted driving– the fifth leading cause of teen car accidents.4 Encourage your teen to put their phone in the backseat before starting the car to limit the temptation to check their phone, text, or play music from their device. Limit the number of passengers your teen can drive with to keep the peer pressure and distraction to a minimum. Small distractions may seem insignificant, but the smallest distraction can result in significant damage in a split second.
Encourage a Driving Course
Research shows that inexperience is the leading cause of teen car accidents.5 Driver training courses teach teens critical skills and improve reaction times. Many training courses are fun for teens, allowing them to really learn the ins and outs of vehicle mechanics and allowing them to practice key skills. Skills learned in driving courses are much more in-depth than what is learned during the state-officiated driving test. These courses can even help you receive better rates on insurance policies. “Research suggests that more comprehensive GDL systems are associated with 26% to 41% reductions in fatal crashes and 16% to 22% reductions in overall crashes among 16-year-old drivers. Parents can help their teen be safer by knowing and following their state’s GDL laws.”6
Share these tips with your teen driver for easy ways to prevent car accidents– the leading cause of death for U.S. teens– and for ways to be proactive as the roads become busier with holiday traffic. As always, if you are looking for the best insurance policies out there contact us or call us directly today.