Most of us will be online shopping more during the festive season - and seeing a lot more promotional and sales emails. As this time of year usually sees a spike in cyber crime, what steps can you take to keep yourself safe from spammers, phishing emails and cyber criminals?
- Online shopping fraud increased by 24% during the Christmas period (October-February) between 2015 and 2018.
- Over 15,000 reports of online shopping fraud were made to Action Fraud during the Christmas period last year.
- Victims reported losing more than £11 million in total.
General online safety
Cyber security is for life, not just for Christmas, so you should have the following in place:
- Virus protection and firewall, including money security offered through your virus protection provider.
- A different password for every website you use - each one as complex as possible. You should never use the same password twice. If you struggle to remember all your passwords, use a password manager (there are free options available).
- Check the sites you're shopping on are secure. Official websites will have 'https' in front of the site name, rather than 'http' (the 's' stands for 'secure'). You will also see a padlock symbol to the left of the site name. If this isn't present, don't buy from the site.
- Be wary of clicking on sales links in emails. If unsure, Google the company and reach the website that way, rather than clicking the link. That way, if the link is from a phishing site you won't be caught out.
- If you do click a link, check the spelling on the site and the way the site name is written.There are some very clever copycat sites out there, designed to look just like the sites of well known brands.
- If you're buying event tickets as a gift, always buy from official sources.
- Remember, if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is! Be wary of being drawn in by an apparently great offer, only to find you've inadvertently purchased a counterfeit item.
- Always read the small print when making a purchase.
- Always use a secure connection - don't shop online using free coffee shop WiFi.
- Use a credit card rather than a debit card for transactions, as you will be covered by your credit card issuer if anything goes wrong. For added peace of mind, look for a credit card with an Internet guarantee.
- If a sale doesn't go through properly, never email your payment details. Always complete transactions via a secure website.
- Once you've completed a transaction, log out of the site - don't just close the browser window.
Tips for keeping your new gadgets safe
- We know you're excited to start using your new items - but before you do, make sure you install any security and software updates straight away.
- Change default passwords on new devices right away.
*Figures from Action Fraud