There is something like two billion people across the globe that regularly shop online today. That’s roughly about one in four of the world’s population. During the Christmas holiday season, online shopping surges to an annual peak and it’s probably higher than ever as a result of the pandemic and lockdowns. It’s also a huge source of opportunity for cyber thieves and online scammers. Here are 10 top tips to keep you safe from scammers this holiday season.
1.Phishing mail alert
If you receive an email you weren’t expecting, bin it straight away. If you click on a link and go on to enter your personal information you will have just handed your information over to a fraudster and potentially introduced malware into your PC, laptop, smartphone, or tablet.
2.Social media scams
Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can be rife with scams. Scammers will often send a message that appears to come from social media platform but the links in the message will take you to fake pages that ask for personal details such as user name and password. Don’t be fooled, this is your personal info and a social media service wouldn’t ask for it.
3.Fake website or the real deal?
Fake websites during the holiday shopping season are as common as rain in an English summer. Whenever possible use websites that you know and trust. If you want to check out a new website look for ‘https’ at the start of the URL. The ‘s’ stands for secure and signifies encrypted data. You should also look for a green padlock in the browser bar as this also symbolizes the same thing. A well-designed website is usually a good sign when you’re shopping somewhere new. If you get a lot of pop-ups and can’t close them, stay away.
4.Shopping with your smartphone
If you use a public Wi-Fi to shop online make sure you connect via a VPN. These networks are extremely vulnerable to hackers but they can be beaten back with a good VPN that hides and encrypts your data. Also, be aware of abbreviated URLs for a website which can be common on mobile devices. This can mislead buyers into phishing scams so double check that you are on a legitimate site before you take the plunge and buy something.
5.Your data is gold
Whether it’s your name and address, bank account numbers, payment card details, PIN numbers, phone numbers, email addresses, or other personal identifying information treat it like its 24 karat gold 99.9 per cent purity, the best you can buy, because it is precious. Don’t give any of it out online.
Online threats continually evolve in terms of their sophistication so you need to make sure you have the most advanced protection available which updates automatically. BullGuard Internet Security 2021 fits this bill. Including advanced dynamic machine learning and safe browsing for secure online banking, it features multi-layers of robust protection. And it’s always evolving too.
7.Strong and unique – just like you
Your passwords need to be strong and unique. Use at least ten characters with a mixture of upper and lower case letters, symbols, and numbers. This will defeat those who attempt to guess your password.
8.Read the reviews
Reviews are a great source of information about websites, products, and services. People who submit reviews give an honest, unvarnished opinion, even if some are a bit grumpy. So if in doubt about a website or anything else check the reviews.
If you’re using auction sites create a screen name that doesn’t give anything away about your real identity. You can dream up some cool names and keep prying eyes, snoopers, and cybercriminals at a safe distance.
10.Credit or debit?
Credit cards are the way to go when shopping online. Mandatory regulations demand that credit card companies have to provide protection for their customers which means if you do get scammed online you have a good degree of protection. On the other hand, the protection given to debit cardholders is limited which means you may have to bear a large proportion of any financial losses.