12/19/2018, noon | Updated on 12/19/2018, noon
Maurice Dawson is the director of the Center for Cyber Security and Forensic Education and an assistant professor at the ...
With increased spending comes increased financial fraud during the holiday season. Maurice Dawson (pictured), director of the Center for Cyber Security and Forensic Education at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Dawson offered a few tips on how to stay safe while shopping during the holiday season. Photo Caption: Illinois Institute of Technology

IIT Professor Shares How To Protect Yourself From Fraud This Holiday Season


Maurice Dawson is the director of the Center for Cyber Security and Forensic Education and an assistant professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). Dawson recognizes the risks that many shoppers face during the holiday season and has offered a few quick tips on how to protect your financial information.

This year, the average holiday consumer will likely spend about $1,000 on purchases from gifts to food to holiday attire which is a 4.1 percent increase from last year. Across the board, it was estimated that Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers alone amassed over $30 billion in retail purchases, according to estimates made by the National Retail Federation.

During this time, according to Dawson, people are less diligent about checking their bank statement and as a result become more likely to fall victim to credit card fraud where they might not notice it right away.

“The biggest trend is that people are buying so many items. People go on Amazon and other places and buy tons of stuff and aren’t really noticing extra payments being made from their accounts. There is so much activity occurring in their bank account during this period that they aren’t paying attention to the fine details,” said Dawson.

Attacks against consumers spike during the busy holiday shopping season. People become more vulnerable to cyber hacks because they are sharing their sensitive financial information more than normal while trying to book holiday travel and shopping online. Using third party websites like Facebook to do holiday shopping can put consumers at an even greater risk, said Dawson.

“Individuals use their Gmail or Facebook t sign into various things online because there can be added incentives and coupons but then they forget to log out of that stuff. So now, if someone goes into your Gmail account and there are 25 applications that are approved and attached to that account the hacker now has access to all of it,” said Dawson.

He also warned against logging into personal accounts from public machines, like a photo kiosk or at an electronics store.

“People may use machines that aren’t their primary computer around this time of year. Say you go to Walmart and log into their system to look something up real quick you should remember to use a private browser or remove all the cache and cookies from the machine when you’re finished because no one at the store is on there signing you out. Even if you log out of your e-mail or social media, the machine can still save your passwords so it’s important to clear that out,” said Dawson.

The last thing that Dawson warned about was a spike in fraudulent e-mails around this time of year.

“People will sometimes get e-mails claiming to be from UPS saying that you have a package to pick up and they really look legitimate but really it’s going to hijack your browser and your information,” said Dawson. “People really have to stay vigilant around this time of year.”