Stay smart and safe this holiday season

Published 11:38 am Thursday, December 7, 2023

Who needs the Grinch when we have plenty of scammers to try and steal Christmas?

Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch warned this week of another scam targeted at Mississippians during the holiday season. This latest scam involves text messages sent from bad actors urging victims to click on a link to locate a missing or delayed delivery. Like most phishing scams, the link then seeks to obtain personal and financial information which can be used for stealing your identity online.

And while this scam might be a new twist, its intent is an old one. Sadly, the holidays are a peak time for would-be thieves and con men (and women) to prey on unsuspecting people.

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During the holiday season, especially at Christmas, theft-related crimes tend to increase. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), robbery and larceny increase by approximately 20% every December.

Here are some of the most common holiday crimes and how you can prevent them:

• Package theft: Unfortunately, porch pirates are all too common during the holidays. Make sure your packages are delivered to a secure location, like your workplace or a neighbor’s house. You can also track your packages online, so you know when they’ve been delivered. Security cameras installed on your porch can also help serve as a deterrent or can aid in catching package thieves.

• Home burglaries: With homes decorated for the holidays and people traveling more frequently, burglaries increase during this time of year. Keep your home security system armed when you’re away, and make sure your valuables are out of sight.

• Car break-ins: Don’t leave gifts or other valuables in your car where they can be seen. This is especially important if you’re traveling for the holidays. Keep your belongings with you, or hide them in the trunk before you reach your destination.

• Credit card fraud: Be careful when shopping online or using your credit card at holiday parties. Be sure to use a secure website, and never give your credit card information to anyone you don’t know.

• Identity theft: Be cautious when giving out personal information, like your Social Security number or date of birth. Also, be aware of phishing scams that will try to get you to provide personal information. Don’t click on links or open attachments from people you don’t know, and be sure to use a secure password for all your online accounts to prevent hacking.

In a season focused on celebrating love and generosity, no one wants to think about the dangers of property or identity theft, but they are real and present.

So, take a few moments to protect yourself and stay smart this holiday season.