Every year a record breaking number of Christmas shoppers turn to the Internet in search of their annual gift list, and 2014 isn’t expected to be any different.
That means an unprecedented number of online transactions are expected to occur in November and December, and that means the potential for luring victims into a variety of online retail scams is also at a record high. Something cybercriminals are unlikely to ignore.
If you’re one of those who will be turning to the Internet for this year’s festive shop then fear not! Providing you follow some really simple safety tips, online shopping is perfectly safe and hassle free, especially when compared to being squashed in the bustling Christmas crowds!
5. Stick to reputable or trusted websites
Always try and stick to websites you know you can trust. This can mean sites that have a good reputation such as Amazon and eBay, or the official websites of popular companies like Samsung or Apple.
If you don’t know the website you’re on then it is important to establish trust before buying. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as typing in the website name or web address into Google and looking for feedback from past customers or seeing how long the site has been operational for by checking its entry in the WHOIS database that logs the registration date of the domain.
Web of Trust is also a handy piece of software that you can install that will establish a trust rating based on feedback, domain age and popularity.
4. Use credit and avoid paying options with no protection
If possible always try and stick to credit when paying for your Christmas shopping, as credit cards offer the best buyer protection if things go wrong.
Of course credit it not always possible. PayPal and debit card are also widely used and offer protection as well, though this is not always as comprehensive.
There are some payment methods that are never advised ever. This includes mailing money or cheques through the post or wiring money through transfer services like Western Union. In these cases, if things go wrong, then there is little recourse and you are unlikely to ever see that money again.
3. Avoid shopping on public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi isn’t the place to go online shopping (or banking) as it isn’t secure. Anyone can access a public Wi-Fi network and can employ a variety of tricks to spy on you, as well as intercept the information you send and receive from the Internet. The same applies to public networks like your work network.
If you’re familiar with VPN technology then this can help, but there is no better place to do your shopping than within your own secured home network.
2. Keep your computer security software up-to-date
There is a range of malware out there that is designed specifically to target online shoppers and needless to say they will be as popular as ever during the festive period.
Malware that can transmit your personal information, direct you to spoof websites, hold you to ransom or record your login information are all popular during this time and they can all result in identity theft.
Ensure that when you’re shopping on the Internet there is nothing malicious lurking in the background. Have up-to-date security software installed at all times and run a virus scan before you do your Christmas shop.
If you’re looking for recommendations for reliable, quality security software then click here for our editor’s choice.
1. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is
There are plenty of websites out there, especially ones purporting to trade from places like China, Russia, Africa or India. These are popular over the festive period as they advertise popular products for much cheaper prices than on more popular and trusted websites.
However it is important to be especially cautious of such websites. Many scammers utilise such sites to sell counterfeit products, or even hide additional costs such as “courier fees” or costs associated with importing goods through customs.
Often such sites will simply steal your money, or even your banking information.
If you can’t establish trust with a website selling products that seem to be too cheap, then don’t buy!
A few more quick tips –
– Don’t click on suspicious links on social media sites or suspicious giveaway competitions
– Don’t shop on public computers or in Wi-Fi cafes
– Never enter personal information on a page that doesn’t begin with HTTPS (you need the S, it stands for secure!)
– Use strong, hard to guess passwords for all your online accounts, but never the same password for more than one account.
– Make sure you closely monitor your banking details, either through statements or your online banking facility
– If you ever have a question, or are in some difficulty, seek advice immediately. We’re always on hand to help.