Holiday Hacking is Very Risky for You and Your Family

It’s the holidays once again, and each year, people flock to the internet to do online shopping. Hackers know this, and they set themselves up to steal your data.

Every year there is a big hack, and this year will likely be no different. Here are some tips to protect yourself shopping online now and in the future:

Do Business With Trusted Sites

There are zillions of websites that look perfectly legitimate even using HTTPS in the URL. Many of these sites utilize perfect grammar, they incorporate an online “chat” feature where someone engages you immediately, and they even have a functional shopping cart. But they are in fact built specifically to scam you. You will generally stumble upon these sites in Google search when looking for a specific hard to find item.

To prevent being scammed, only pay by a credit card which you can be refunded upon learning of the scam, never wire money, or use Zelle or PayPal or Venmo etc. And search the name of the company and its URL to see if anybody else has been scammed. You might find references via the Better Business Bureau, “Scam detector” or other reputation based sites, or various forums revolving around that specific product category.

Only Use Strong Passwords

You should have a different password for every site you use. Keep in mind that this password might be the only thing stopping someone from accessing your personal information including your address, credit card information, and more. The best passwords should contain upper and lower case letters, symbols, and numbers. Also, avoid choosing anything obvious like the name of your pet, and never, ever use the same password for more than one account.

Update All Device Software

All of us are probably guilty of not updating our software when it needs to be updated. However, there is one type of software you never, ever want to skip updating: your anti-virus software. Anti-virus software helps to prevent hackers from getting access to your accounts, and make sure to update your operating system and other software on your devices.

Always Use Two-Step Verification When You Can

Many companies offer two-step verification for customers If this is available, choose it! This adds one more layer of security that a hacker has to get through, and it’s quite difficult to do because not only do they need access to your account, but also need access to your device. Most major retailers allow this, including Amazon and eBay.

Ignore Strange Looking Emails

Also, keep an eye out for strange looking emails. Many companies send holiday sales emails, for instance, and some hackers will take advantage of this. They will send an email that looks like it comes from a legitimate source, like Macy’s, but it’s actually a fake email that is coming from a weird email address and not

Watch Your Credit Card Statements

It is also important to watch your credit card statements, and if something looks strange, report it immediately. Consider getting notifications and alerts for any charges.

Keep Your Devices Locked

Another thing you can do is make sure all of your devices are locked. A device that is unlocked can easily expose your personal info to hackers, so keep those devices locked with a biometric option, like a finger print, or a strong password.

Don’t Use Unsafe Apps

If you are shopping from an app, make sure it’s a trusted one. You should only download apps from the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store, or Amazon App Store. Also, make sure that you are looking into what permissions you are giving these apps. For example, does an app need access to your contact list? No, it doesn’t.

When Shopping From Your Computer, Stay Safe

Even if you are shopping from a computer or mobile phone, you need to be connected to a safe and secure network. Don’t use public Wi-Fi unless you are also using a virtual private network, or a VPN.

Though it should be the responsibility of online retailers to ensure their sites are safe, but we all know that this just doesn’t always happen. So, make sure you are taking these extra steps to stop hacking.

Written by Robert Siciliano, CEO of Credit Parent, Head of Training & Security Awareness Expert at Protect Now, #1 Best Selling Amazon author, Media Personality & Architect of CSI Protection Certification.

15 Tips to protect holiday packages from theft

During the holidays, thieves will actually follow delivery trucks, snatching the packages that the driver leaves at peoples’ front doors. Thieves will also cruise around neighborhoods in search of boxes left at front doors—and steal them.

Here are numerous tips on how to protect packages, that are being sent to you, from theft, and also how to safeguard anything you’re sending out. 4H

  1. Get a tracking number from the shipping company.
  2. Require a signature with the delivery.
  3. If you won’t be home, have the company leave the package at a local shipping center.
  4. Set up an obvious surveillance camera with your home security system.
  5. If UPS is making the delivery, get onboard with their U.P.S. My Choice program, which sends an e-mail or text message to the customer just prior to package arrival; it will be rerouted if nobody is home.
  6. Insist that the driver leave the package in an inconspicuous area.
  7. Have the driver leave the package at your apartment’s or condo’s office.
  8. Retrieve your mail as quickly as possible after delivery.
  9. If you can’t retrieve it daily, have a trusted person get it.
  10. If you’re traveling, have the post office hold your mail until you get back.
  11. Never received mail you were expecting? Contact the sender to see if it was sent. If so, file a complaint with the post office. This also applies if the contents of mail are missing.
  12. Bring your checks or money orders to a postal collection box (personally give it to a postal worker) for the delivery driver to pick up; don’t leave checks or money orders in your home mailbox.
  13. Never leave packages outside your door.
  14. Alert recipients of your packages as to when they are to expect them.
  15. Insure any packages you send.

Robert Siciliano personal and home security specialist to discussing burglar proofing your home on Fox Boston. Disclosures.

My Mexican Travel Security Ordeal

Mexico has made the news over and over due to their “Narco Wars”. 10’s of thousands have been murdered and kidnapped in many of the border towns all the way down to Acapulco. So where do I vacation? Mexico. It’s an easy trip, its economically smart, it’s usually warm and sunny, the foods good, the people are great, and there’s always a good story to tell. I do my homework and understand where the risks are and aren’t.

I don’t stay in the border towns. That’s where a lot of the bad stuff is happening. Border towns are mostly landlocked, so no ocean, and there isn’t much as far as vacationing goes. We like the beaches and prefer southern resort towns that cater to making me happy.

In my last Mexican adventure we were picked up at the airport by a car service recommended by the hotel. I usually get in the front seat so I can see where we are going and I like to have a little control. I put my laptop and backpack up front with me, but then the wife asked me to come to the back seat, which I did. But there was no room for the bags, so they stayed up front. The van was clean, and the ride was the typical white knuckler, hold on for dear life, the driver is a nut, and when was the last time this thing had its brakes checked.”

When we got to the resort we were swarmed with hotel help/bellmen pulling our bags out of the van. As I’m counting bags and counting kids and on my way back to the van to get my 2 other bags, the van drove away. My laptop and backpack were still in the front seat. ON THE FRONT SEAT. There is no way the driver didn’t see the laptop on the front seat. I frantically went to the bellman to call the security dude at the entrance to the property to stop the van. Ten minutes goes by and they said he must have gone another way because he never went back through security.

I got the car service on the phone to call the driver and they said he wasn’t answering his phone. Of course he wasn’t answering his phone, he was selling my laptop. 20 minutes goes by and I fear he’s got this thing hocked. Then another driver from the same company pulled into the resorts entrance and I flagged him down. I told him to call the driver and tell him I left 2 bags in the van. He called, the driver picked up the phone. Nailed. He answered for his buddy but not his boss.

He showed up 20 minutes later. When he pulled up he was dismissive and rude. He knows he was “caught” but didn’t even offer a response. My laptop was now on the front floor of the van, the bag had been gone through and the backpack was in the back seat of the van. He obviously tossed it there.

I never told resort security, the bellman or the car service over the phone that “my bags” that were in the van consisted of a laptop. But when resort security and the bellman saw me pull the laptop out, they all nodded their heads shaking them and proceeded to understand why he drove off.

Moral of the story: if you don’t want it stolen, don’t leave it out of your site. Because any opportunity to distract you and take your stuff, the bad guy will.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to ADT Home Security Source discussing Home Security and Identity Theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover. Disclosures.

Identity Theft Expert and Speaker on Personal Security Offers Nine Tips to Help Holiday Travelers Reduce Their Risk of Falling Prey to Crime

(BOSTON, Mass. – Nov. 16, 2007 – A number of reports have, as in years’ past, cited the sharp spike in travel expected over the holiday season, which is set to begin next week. Robert Siciliano, a widely televised and quoted personal security and identity theft expert, offered advice for all travelers to follow, helping them to avoid falling prey to predators and other criminals while away from home.

“Criminals love it when we’re distracted,” said Robert Siciliano. “They’re best able to steal from us, or assault us, when we’re off guard, and travelers are often most likely to be so. Luckily, we can implement simple measures to reduce our risks.”

CEO of and a member of the Bank Fraud & IT Security Report’s editorial board, Siciliano leads Fortune 500 companies and their clients in workshops that explore consumer education solutions for security issues. An experienced identity theft speaker and author of “The Safety Minute: 01,” he has discussed data security, consumer protection, and personal security issues such as self-defense on numerous television outlets, including CNBC, on NBC’s “Today Show,” and FOX News.

On Nov. 14, published an article on safe driving tips, and on the same day, the Monticello Herald Journal quoted law enforcement officials saying the day for Thanksgiving sees the most travel of the season. Siciliano shared nine tips designed to help holiday travelers stay safe during this time of year:

1. Securing your mobile computing equipment: Reports of laptop thefts have dominate the news. Those planning to bring work with them on their holiday travels should secure their mobile computing equipment with technology that guards and retrieves the data on these machines once in the hands of thieves. Once such product, MyLaptopGPS™, allows users, from a remote location, not only to retrieve and delete data from the lost machine, but also to track the device’s whereabouts with Internet-based GPS tracking.

2. Protecting your identity: It may seem old-fashioned, but consider paying with cash whenever possible; even better, try travelers’ checks. Plastic is susceptible to fraud. For instance, unscrupulous wait staff might use a wedge-type device to illegally swipe and capture patrons’ credit card information. A traveler should remember to be careful with credit cards and, also, to exercise caution when divulging a Social Security number. To learn more about identity theft, readers may watch video of Siciliano at VideoJug.

3. Understanding the fundamentals: Body language is 55 percent of communication. Strive to appear in control of yourself and your plans. Be alert to your surroundings. At all times, know what is going on 50 feet to 100 feet around the perimeter of your body. Voice tone and pitch equal 35 percent of communication. The way you communicate physically and verbally can determine whether a predator deems you a good target, so be confident and succinct.

4. Airport awareness: Airports are havens for criminals. Pay full attention to your belongings when airport security screens you. Fully cooperate with security personnel and be patient. Beware of strangers who are distracting or watching you.

5. Preventing abductions: Returning to a parked car, scan the area around it and watch for suspicious activity. Vans are telltale signs of foul play waiting to happen. Abductors and rapist will open the side door and pull their victims inside.

6. Pickpockets and thieves: Do not fight over material items. Carry currency in small amounts and denominations. Keep it in an easily accessible pocket. If someone tries to rob you, throw the “chump change” several feet away. This will distract the robber and give you time to escape.

7. Telephone basics: Protect your calling card number. Be wary of everyone around you as you enter this number. In airports, thieves could be videotaping a “going away” couple right behind you as you punch in your digits. The person standing at the phone next to you could be relaying your number to an accomplice.

8. Rental cars and transportation: Hide rental agreements, dead giveaways that you are traveling. Keep these off the dash. Don’t store valuables in the trunk, as many rental cars use a universal key to unlock everything. If you lose the ignition key, you may very well lose everything. Should you find yourself in a minor accident, stop only in a well-lit area. Carjackers provoke such “accidents” just to get travelers to stop. Do not stop on a deserted, dark street.

9. Staying at the hotel: Be suspicious of a call from the hotel desk just after check-in. The person on the other end of the phone may request verification of your credit card number “because the imprint was unreadable.” In reality, a thief may have watched you enter the hotel room and called from the guest phone in the lobby.

“On your way to visit family, make regular calls to loved ones and let them know where you are,” Siciliano concluded. “This ensures that they’ll have the most accurate idea possible of your whereabouts should a predator get the best of you.”


Identity theft affects us all. Robert Siciliano, CEO of and member of the Bank Fraud & IT Security Report’s editorial board, makes it his mission to provide consumer education solutions on identity theft to Fortune 500 companies and their clients.

A leader of personal safety and security seminars nationwide, Siciliano has been featured on “The Today Show,” CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, “FOX News,” “The Suze Orman Show,” “The Montel Williams Show,” “Maury Povich,” “Sally Jesse Raphael,” “The Howard Stern Show,” and “Inside Edition.” The Privacy Learning Institute features him on its Website. Numerous magazines, print news outlets, and wire services have turned to him, as well, for expert commentary on personal security and identity theft. These include Forbes, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Woman’s Day, Good Housekeeping, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, United Press International, Reuters, and others.

Visit Siciliano’s Web site, blog, and YouTube page.

The media are encouraged to get in touch with Siciliano directly:

Robert Siciliano, Personal Security Expert
CEO of
PHONE: 888-SICILIANO (742-4542)
FAX: 877-2-FAX-NOW (232-9669)

The media may also contact:

Brent W. Skinner
President & CEO of STETrevisions
PHONE: 617-875-4859
FAX: 866-663-6557