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10 tips for staying digitally secure during the holidays

Cybercrime doesn't take a holiday. While many of us look forward to some time off, the combination of relaxation and increased spending during the festive season heightens cybercrime activities and the 2021 year-end season will likely be a bonanza for online criminals because we are spending much more online than before.

In the closing months of 2020, globally, consumers spent $1.1 trillion in online shopping. 2021 looks set to increase to $1.2 trillion, yet the real news is that in 2019 we only spent $726 billion. That is an enormous jump, and with it came much more interest from criminals. Additional factors heighten the risk of online crime. The increase in transactions during holidays can make it tougher to spot fraudulent activities. We travel more, which means we transact from places we usually wouldn't and support channels such as call centres manage much larger volumes. Meanwhile, our vigilance becomes relaxed.

These season changes provide online criminals with significantly more opportunities and cover to do their dirty deeds. As is often the case, they exploit our negligence to their benefit. But there are several actions you can take to make yourself more digitally secure and stop online fraud or theft from spoiling your time off.

1) Notify your bank of travel. If you plan to go away and transact in places you don't usually frequent, consider informing your bank's card division that you'll be travelling. This will help avoid false-positive reports, and your bank can triangulate any suspicious activities more accurately.

2) Keep an eye on your bank statements. You should relax. But don't relax too much - periodically check your bank transactions for any suspicious activities.