We’re coming to the end of a year of multiple lockdowns and restrictions due to Covid-19. There’s no doubt that Christmas will feel different this year with many families not being able to mix and even some stores being closed.

It’s no surprise that online shopping for Christmas will be at an all-time high because of Coronavirus. While this has it’s benefits, it also has its risks with fraudsters targeting online shoppers with sneaky scams.

More online shoppers means more scams to be targeted by. Take a look at what you can do to keep yourself safe.

Go With Your Gut

If you feel a deal is too good to be true, it probably is. Many ‘fake’ websites are easy to spot, however, the more time we spend online the better the website will look. If you’re unsure, researching the website can tell you if it is legitimate. Websites like Trust Pilot cover large and independent retailers with feedback from the public.

Buying from well-known retailers will always be a safer option if you are concerned, although they are more susceptible to pharming attacks. Pharming attacks (similar to phishing) will appear to you as if you’ve gone to the correct website, but it’s a fake version designed to steal your information. Most web browsers these days have security in place to divert you if they believe the web-page is being impersonated, but you should still be on the lookout for strange looking web addresses with a selection of numbers or a different spelling.

Stay Secure

There are many ways to stay secure online. What you do is just as important as checking the website from top to bottom. From wifi to software the more the merrier!

How to make sure a website is secure

Before entering the checkout stage of online shopping you should be aware of the signs that your data is safe. Secure websites should show a padlock symbol next to the domain. if it does the domain should also begin with HTTPS:// rather than HTTP:// the s stands for secure. If you click the padlock symbol or just to the left of the address bar, you should see information on the site certificate. This should tell you who has registered the site. If you get a warning about a certificate, avoid the website.

Black friday website secure
Black friday website secure

Remember that even if the website is secure, it doesn’t mean the seller is honest.

Secure WiFi connections

If you are shopping online, use your own private connection. Public wi-fi you’d find in restaurants or shopping centres are often not secure and can mean that any information you send over this connection can be accessed by scammers or fraudsters. It’s best to resist the temptation and wait until you have a private connection or even use your own mobile data.

Your personal security

Your personal security is extremely important when using sensitive information online. Making sure your software and anti-virus protection is up-to-date can protect you from downloading any harmful software or your data being breached. It’s also important to ensure that you are using secure passwords. Passwords should typically contain a combination of upper case, lower case, number and special characters. Make sure that you’re using different passwords for all of your accounts. Once one account is breached all of them can be accessed if your passwords are the same.

A recent addition to smartphone and web-browsers now feature a warning that can tell you if your password has been included in a data leak and is at high risk of compromise.

Check the Policies

Retailers should have a return policy in place. If not, then it’s not worth buying from them as they may be scammers or they may not help if you received the wrong order, if it was damaged or would like to return it.

If you’re buying an expensive item, check the manufacturer’s website to make sure you’re using an authorised distributor or seller.

It’s also important to understand how to pay safely in case something does go wrong. A credit card is usually better when buying online as you . are more likely to get your money back. Under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, paying by credit card will also give you added protection on purchases over £100 up to £30,000. This means the card provider has equal responsibility with the seller for faulty, unsatisfactory or undelivered items.

Despite this, not everyone owns or would like to own a credit card. most banks now require two-factor authentication when purchasing online. This, in most cases, will be verified via a text with a code. This can stop anyone who has your bank details from purchasing online. Also, services like PayPal can be useful as you don’t have to give out your actual card details.

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