Posted by Lane Kasselman, Director of Communications & Campaigns on December 18, 2013.

With the holidays fast approaching, the hustle and bustle of the season can distract us from our everyday responsibilities. As consumers continue to turn to the Internet to check off their holiday shopping list, this time of year provides a prime opportunity for online predators to take advantage of unsuspecting online shoppers. That’s why it is essential that consumers take a moment to consider their online and mobile safety.

“Phishing” and “Smishing” are real threats to shoppers’ and mobile phone users’ security. Have you ever received a legitimate-looking email asking you to click on a link for more information? Or how about a text message asking for a password or other personal information? Chances are, you may have been a target of “phishing” or “SMiShing,” and it happens all too often.

Online scams commonly referred to as “phishing” are tricks Internet scammers use to "fish" for consumers' financial information and passwords using fake company emails and websites. The emails and websites are disguised to look nearly identical to legitimate companies' sites.

Although these scams started online, they now can travel beyond your computer. "SMiShing" is a term used to describe phishing carried out via text message. SMiShing uses cell phone text messages to bait you to divulge personal information. You might receive a text that asks you to call an unfamiliar phone number, go to a URL to enter your personal information, or download software to your phone. If you access the URL in the text message or download any software to your device, you may be unknowingly installing a virus directly to your computer or phone.

Now the question is: how can you protect yourself from such scams? Here are some simple tips that can help keep you and your online security safe:

  • Be aware that e-mail headers can be forged easily, so the posing sender may not be the real sender.
  • Avoid providing or filling out forms via e-mail because the data is not secure.
  • Realize that Internet scammers can create realistic forgeries of websites, so avoid clicking on links in an unsolicited e-mail message. Go directly to the company's website and fill out information there.
  • Ensure that a website is secure by checking to see whether there is an "s" after the http in the address and a lock icon at the bottom of the screen. Both are indicators that the site is secure.
  • Don’t forget, these threats can occur on mobile devices as well. Use the Lookout app to protect your mobile device against viruses, malware and spyware. With Lookout, you can browse, download, shop, and pay with confidence. Lookout is available preloaded on select AT&T devices or a version of Lookout is available for download from Google Play or iTunes.

 So this holiday season, as you frequently utilize your credit card to complete your online purchases, take the proper precautions to protect yourself from these threatening scams.

May your days be merry and bright, and may all your online purchases and personal information be locked up tight!

For more information on tools to keep you and your family safe, visit

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