November is one of the best months of the year; not only do we have bonfire night, Christmas is right around the corner but we also get Black Friday – a time were retailers come together to provide their biggest sales of the year! Everyone loves a bargain, and it’s easy to start shopping around to see who will have the biggest and best offers – but this is also prime time for cyber criminals to target individuals and deceive you into providing sensitive information. To help, we have created a list of ten tips on what you can easily do to make sure you get the best shopping experience whilst reducing your risk of falling victim to fraud.
- Whenever you find an online retailer or store that you have never used or heard of before, do some research and make sure that they are legitimate.
For instance, Trustpilot is a great way to see if a website is genuine, and it will also provide you will customer reviews to see others’ experience with that service/seller.
- Check for the padlock icon located in the URL – this ensures that the website is secure and your information is protected.
HINT: look up – our website will have one.
- Make sure you have some form of anti-virus software installed onto your device – even something as simple as Windows Firewall! This will protect and alert you of any viruses or insecure websites.
- Speaking of anti-virus software – if you even visit a website and you are prompted to install anti-virus software because “your device has just become infected”, NEVER do this! This is likely to infect your device with dangerous malware and a legitimate anti-virus company would never prompt you to download their software like this!
- Whenever you are creating an account on a retailers’ site – whether this is to complete an order or sign up to their newsletter – make sure this is a combination of random upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols – so, no more ‘password1’!
FACT: having a randomised password made of up 12 characters (mixture of upper and lowercase, numbers and symbols) will take a computer over 15,000 years to crack!
- Using payment methods such as PayPal will ensure that cyber criminals can’t get hold of your bank details if there is a breach.
- Stay alert and avoid website pharming scams – this is when an attacker creates an identical looking website to popular retailers aiming to steal your details and money. These can be easy enough to spot if you look closely – check for any spelling errors, pixelated/low-quality photos and logos and no “https” in the URL.
- Only provide the minimal amount of your information when making an order or signing up to a website – even if the website is legitimate, this will ensure your personal data does not become heavily compromised is the website ever suffers an attack or breach.
- Avoid shopping when connected to a public Wi-Fi network – these can easily be compromised by a cyber attacker as they are free to use and open to everyone. An attacker would be able to direct you and your device to a harmful website or gather your financials details.
- Trust your gut! If an offer seems too good to be true, then it usually is.