Staying cyber-safe this Mother’s Day

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Around the world people are gearing up for Mother’s Day 2019 on Sunday 12th May, either with meticulous planning of the perfect Mother’s Day lunch or perhaps by popping to the shop for a last-minute card. Most countries across the globe are celebrating the day, from the US to Europe as well as Australia and India. Even where cultural customs and traditional gift-giving may vary, many people will be looking online to track down the perfect Mother’s Day gift.

There are a number of scams out there to be aware of when shopping online, especially around an important holiday like Mother’s Day. So how can you make sure you, and your mom, stay safe in the cyber-world?

#1) Watch out for e-cards
Nowadays people travel across borders like never before and an average family may have a son working in London and a daughter in Berlin, while the rest of the family are at home in Italy. We’re getting more and more used to these long-distance relationships, meaning e-cards are rising in popularity. And as a paperless option, they’re also the eco-friendly choice.

However there are dangers we should all be aware of when using e-cards. It’s fairly simple to find out basic details about a person’s life on social media nowadays and hackers can easily find individuals on Facebook, for example, and learn the names of their children. This means they could potentially send a fake e-card, carrying dangerous malware, which supposedly comes from your child. Around Mother’s Day, when moms are expecting a card from their treasured kids, they may not think twice about opening such an email.

The important thing here is to verify activity that takes place online in real-life. So, if you regularly send e-cards to family, encourage your loved ones to check with you that an email is legitimate before they open it.

This latter point might also have something to do with helping your mother understand the online world – she might be as tech savvy as you or the internet might be something that’s relatively foreign to her. Think about taking the time to explain some of the potential scams out there so she understands how she should take care and what she should be looking out for.

#2) Be careful ordering flowers online
Flowers are always a favorite and you can’t really go wrong – moms are unlikely to be unhappy with a beautiful bouquet of lilies this Mother’s Day.

But in this day and age, who really has time to get to a physical shop? Ordering flowers online makes it easy while also keeping mom happy. However if you’re ordering online, make sure you take the time to check the online retailer is legitimate. For example, if you found the website through a third-party, make sure the URL matches the shop’s official website. Or do it the old-fashioned way and simply give them a call before handing over your money. It may add another five minutes to the job but it’s important to avoid making yourself vulnerable to scammers online – especially at a time of year when hackers might be targeting flower shops.

#3) Keep track of your gift cards
In 2017, there were reports of criminals hacking gift card systems in a bid to cash in on cards which have already been issued but held cash that had not yet been spent. It could be pretty upsetting for a mother who goes to spend the Amazon voucher given to her for Mother’s Day, only to find out there’s nothing in the pot. While this scam rose in frequency a few years ago, it’s important to be aware that these trends tend to re-surface and you don’t want to be caught out.

Key advice to make sure you, and your mother, don’t become a victim includes:
•    Change the card password: Most gift cards allow you to login online, meaning you can get online as soon as you receive the card and change the password.
•    Keep a check of your gift card balance: Gift cards hold your cash just like anything else so keep an eye on them and what you’re spending, just like you would with your bank account. Many stores will now return money but records will help you prove that the money was stolen.
•    Make the store aware: If your card is misused, report it immediately. The company is likely to take swift action once they’re made aware – after all it could have a big impact on their brand reputation if cyber-thefts continue and more of their shoppers are affected.

Like many things in the online world, navigating Mother’s Day is about educating yourself and being aware of the potential pitfalls of online activity. The only big difference on the 12th May is that it’s an important reminder to think not only about your own online habits, but about your mother’s also. Start a conversation and make sure she knows how to keep herself safe online, so your mom can enjoy her gift and you can enjoy feeling like the perfect offspring.