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The Resource Center Online Security Issues & Protection | article

Beware of Less-Than-Friendly E-Greetings This Easter

Easter Sunday is one of the biggest holidays of the year for many people the world over — even surpassing Christmas in some instances. This is one of the few major holidays in the spring that most Americans celebrate, and probably the only one this time of year where gifts are exchanged. These gifts come in many forms — some kids receive baskets from the Easter Bunny, while parents will often invest in even bigger purchases, like bikes or sports equipment, that children can use all spring and summer long.

Not everyone is lucky enough to spend time with their families over the Easter holiday, and may instead only have a chance to pass along a holiday greeting either by phone, mail or email. But stay aware. While you want to be able to send your best to friends and families this spring, the holidays are a big time of year for identity theft, especially those thieves who work online.

Thieves are aware of your trusting nature over the holiday
One way that people communicate with each other over the holiday is by sending e-cards. These funny or sweet messages are a great way to stay in touch with not just family members, but also coworkers, acquaintances and people who you haven't seen in a long time. However, this can mean that if you receive such a message, you may not immediately recognize the address it is coming from because it is from an individual you don't regularly stay in touch with.

Identity thieves take advantage of the fact that people are expecting Easter greetings in their inboxes this time of year and that they may be less than picky about where these greetings come from. As a result, individuals may open up messages that are disguised as friendly well-wishes that are really viruses. These computer programs could hack into your hard drive if you open one and potentially steal valuable personal identification information you have stored.

Don't put others at harm by opening yourself up to viruses
This is especially dangerous if you open up this email on your work network, as the virus could spread to a wide array of computers throughout the office and leave your fellow employees vulnerable.

Be as discretionary as possible about opening up such e-greetings throughout the year, for any holiday. They may actually be the work of an identity thief, so only accept these messages after you have confirmed with the sender by a different means that they had in fact been sent by them. And don't forget to consider getting yourself an identity monitoring service that can alert you to certain activity taking place in your name — activity that could be the sign of identity theft.