The holidays are here again and with them the excitement of black Friday sales through to the Christmas holidays and beyond. E-commerce for the holiday period is expected to increase by 10% in comparison to last year. Thanks to this and to the shopping period that peaks between black Friday and cyber Monday, come an increasing concern for online safety. Many are leaving the high street, which has changed in recent years to take their shopping online. Here are a few tips on how to stay safe and avoid being scammed this season.
Make sure the internet connection is secure
The easiest way to do this is to check for the padlock in the address bar or make sure that the website address has “https” in the beginning. Websites that can be trusted make use of technologies that improve security such as the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to encrypt data during transmission to keep their customers safe. Do not give out your information if the padlock or https is absent, or if any small detail in your regular websites change.
Use secure options to make payment
Use alternatives such as PayPal or credit cards that offer buyer protection and insurance in the event of a dispute. Avoid any website or shopping app that will only accept money orders, and wire transfers. That way, if you happen to be a victim of fraud you are not eligible to pay. Some credit card companies have the ability to notify you of activities that have been termed suspicious so that you can quickly put a halt to it. Also, scrutinize your bank statement to see if anything stands out. You can also use gift cards to make purchases instead of your direct information.
Protect your passwords
Try to routinely reset your passwords and when creating passwords use unrecognizable strings containing uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols to discourage hackers. Don’t use the same password for more than one online shopping profile so that if a hacker successfully guesses one password, their access is still limited.
Research before you shop
Shopping on marketplaces like eBay come with a special set of risks, before you commit to buying any items do the required legwork. Read reviews, send messages to the seller, find out about shipping charges (if any) and everything you need to know about the product before you place your order. Scrutinise unbelievable deals, especially when it’s coming from an unknown merchant.
Fake apps and phishing are a threat too
Emails from a retailer or your bank seeking to “verify” your information are often a scam attempt, even if they look legitimate. Clicking the link will take you to a legitimate looking website where they will try to fool you into giving them your information. Fake shopping apps are also a threat on both the App Store and Google play. Download any shopping app straight from the merchant’s official website or if you will download from the app stores check the download history and reviews to be sure you have the right app.
Shopping on public hotspots and public computers
Do not enter your information on public computers. Also, avoid shopping when connected to public hotspots unless you follow the right steps. It will be difficult to know if your information is being tracked or logged.
Following these tips are sure to keep you safe this holiday season and beyond.