With today, Cyber Monday is marked as the biggest online shopping day of the year and although you need to adhere to online shopping safety all year round we need to show extra caution at these times when shopping online as there are going to be more threats and will be potentially easier to get caught by online scams;
Here are our top 5 tips for staying safe when shopping online
1. Check an offer email’s authenticity
As we all received dozens of emails with exciting Cyber Monday offers and most are probably legitimate, but there may also be some spam and phishing type emails within, so always proceed with caution and be careful what you click on from an email and do not open any attachments as they could potentially be a virus, there should be no need to open an attachment for an offer, if you are asked to, don’t.
Emails that are phishing will appear like Cyber Monday (or other) offers, but the links you click on from these could lead you to a fake site to gather your personal data or infect your computer with malware. So if you really want to click on an offer, ensure the link URL (website address) looks authentic and to be certain, avoid clicking on it from the email, it is better to copy it or ‘Google’ the offer or business name separately online on your browser directly. It is very easy for an email to show a different website address in the text to the actual website address it will bring you.
Image Inset: Email’s Sender not matching email address (an example of common ‘bank fraud attempt’ as I received recently)
Also take a look at the email header, although the email sender might say it is from e.g. ‘Amazon Amazing Deals’, and looks like its from Amazon.com (for example only) If you can right click on the email and view its properties to view the full email address you can often see it is a completely different domain name or something withing disguising it, e.g. [email protected]
2. Security Software & Updates
Whether shopping on your Desktop, Tablet or Mobile, ensure you have anti-virus software not only installed but up to date. Also ensure you allow your computer to do those software updates when it asks you, these are important as they not only fix bugs but often fix vulnerabilities in the software that hackers and viruses exploit. Therefore it is essential to have all your systems best protected and up to date before considering entering any personal or payment information into your device.
3. Check Site Security
When you do arrive at a site you are considering purchasing from, ensure you have a Padlock symbol in the address URL and the site is prefixed with https:// and no security warnings
Image inset: Clicking on the Information Icon next to the URL gives you information about the security of the site
4. Use Credit Card or Paypal (instead of Debit Cards)
If you can avoid using your Debit card (as it the one directly connected to your bank account). Using a credit card or PayPal account gives you an extra layer of protection if you later find out there was something not legitimate about the site you purchased from or you don’t receive your goods etc as you can submit a claim with your payment provider directly and also.
Although Credit Cards and Debit cards now appear so similar, when it comes to fraudulent charges there can be huge differences. With Debit Cards your money has been stolen out of your bank account and therefore is often very difficult and takes much more time to try to recover your loss. Whereas with a credit card, no money has been taken from your bank account, and credit card companies will pursue the fraudsters and credit your card back without you having to be out of pocket.
If you have a PayPal account, you can link your credit card and this will double your protection, PayPal is well known for its reputation of purchaser protection features to help you with any fraudulent activity. Also with PayPal if your payment information gets exposed and into the wrong hands, your credit card details are still protected so you don’t have to cancel your cards, and for extra peace of mind all your usual credit-card protections will also cover PayPal purchases just like any other transaction.
Lastly on this tip, always keep a close eye on your bank and credit card statements when you have shopped online, if anything looks amiss, however small the transaction is, ensure to follow it up and check it is something you initiated purchase of as a common way to inflict such fraud is to use lots of small transactions hoping they will go unnoticed by the user.
5. Check the Terms and Conditions – especially the Returns Policy
- Check they delivery costs and lead time
- Check their Returns Policy and timelines to ensure you are happy with them
- Check those checkout tick boxes, ensure you are not signing up to any unwanted newsletters or giving permission for your email to be shared with other marketing companies
- Don’t register for an account if you don’t want to (any reputable site should allow you to check out as a guest as an option)
Hopefully, these tips will help you enjoy some safe online bargains today and all year round.