While Christmas is the season of good will and joy for many, it’s also the time of year when consumers will spend millions online – the perfect time of year for fraudsters to try and trap you with their clever, believable scams.
It’s estimated that one in four Brits has been a victim of an online scam either through social media, emails or too good to be true bargains to entice you in.
We’ve come up with some tips to help you avoid the scams and stay safe while you spend…
1 – Buying online
With the rise of Black Friday bargains, we expect to see offers galore. Many brands continuing this throughout December. There are some genuine bargains to be had. But it’s important to be wise before you dish out your credit card details. Don’t click on offer adverts or emails – go directly to the retailer’s secure website. You can tell that a site is secure by looking out for websites with HTTPS – the S stands for secure.
2 – Delivery notifications
You may be expecting online deliveries throughout the month and it’s not uncommon for the post office or courier to email you to say you have a parcel to collect or that your delivery was unsuccessful if you weren’t in. Fraudsters are wise to this and are using this as a way of getting you to click through to a fraudulent link. Before you click any links, check the email address and the URL to make sure it’s an official site, and if doubt go separately to the page.
3 – E-Cards
In a bid to save money and the environment, many individuals and businesses are choosing to send E-Cards as an alternative to printed cards. Many are genuine, but they can also be a route for cyber-criminals to send you an email with a link containing a virus when clicked, you will be unaware that this has happened. Keep your wits about you, change passwords regularly and make sure you have anti-virus software on your computer.
4 – Social media
Brands make goods look great on social media, and are increasingly making it easier for you to purchase via a social network. But this can also be a haven for fraudsters. If you’re attracted by an offer leave the social network and visit the brands website – the offer should be replicated on there. Read the reviews and see the experiences other consumers have had before you buy. Avoid having too much of your personal information listed on your profile too and don’t click on any links that you think may be suspicious, even if they are from friends – a great way of sucking you in is for the fraudster to tag you and say that someone has uploaded an embarrassing photo of you – if you click on it and you have lots of personal info, this gives the fraudster access to all your details.
5 – Emails
You’re no doubt being inundated by offer emails at the moment with brands giving you money off or bundle offers to get you to spend with them. If the email is coming from a brand you aren’t familiar with, or contains spelling mistakes, this should raise alarm bells. Make sure the sender address is legitimate. You may also spot some emails saying that your account has been cancelled or that you need to verify your email address or that your card details have expired when they haven’t etc with a link to click. Don’t click the link. Contact the retailer directly if you have any concerns.
6 – Bidding
Popular auction sites like ebay and Gumtree are a great way to pick up some Christmas bargains, but sadly people can ruin the experience by offering counterfeit items or items that don’t exist. Research the sellers reviews before you bid, check for genuine feedback and only bid on items and accounts that you trust. And always use recommended payment methods. If you have any concerns, contact the bidding site.
Having good anti-virus software installed on your PC or laptop can help to keep you safe. Get more information about ESET Anti-Virus offered through Smart Computers on our website under the Smart Protect tab. We also offer an email filtering service, monitoring and removing spam emails before they get to you.