Online Christmas Shoppers Beware!
Are you all ready for Christmas? Have done your Christmas shopping already? If so, were you one of the millions of people who went online earlier this week to do their Christmas shopping as Manic Monday gripped the country? It was reported earlier this week that Monday 29 November was Britain’s busiest shopping day online. Visa Europe said they were expecting 3.8m purchases worth £265m to be made using Visa cards on Monday alone! Kelkoo, the shopping comparison site, also reported that online shoppers were expected to spend £537m on Christmas gifts.
But if like me, you haven’t done your Christmas shopping yet, and are planning to stay warm by shopping online to find those perfect presents (especially when it’s so snowy outside), then I thought it helpful to remind ourselves of some top tips to remain vigilant against the dangers of online fraud.
Unfortunately online fraud is a growing problem. Research by CPP earlier this year showed us that there is a victim of online fraud every seven seconds, with the average victim losing £285. To corroborate our own research, according to the interim 2010 half-year card fraud figures from Financial Fraud Action UK, the number of phishing attacks increased 21 per cent to over 31,448 separate types of attacks.
So to keep safe and vigilant against these threats, what do we need to look out for when searching, shopping or browsing online? One of the most important tips is to remember to always shop on secure websites. This means websites that have a small padlock symbol in the right-hand side of the address bar that encrypt any sensitive financial information that you input. Websites that start their web addresses with: https//www. means the website should be trusted and is secure. If we do shop on unsecure sites, we could be putting ourselves at risk of card-not-present fraud, where card details could potentially be used by fraudsters to take out good or services in your name. Not the Christmas present you had in mind, I am sure.
Another important tip is to always log out of sites once you’ve finished shopping. If it’s a shared computer you use, that means other people cannot go on and use your log-on details to buy their Christmas presents. And as an extra measure of security, if a website offers you the chance to use Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode, then use it. It’s easy-to-use and adds another level of verification, which means you’re better protected against others gaining access to your personal card details.
Web fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated and unfortunately Christmas shoppers are a prime target, particularly due to the volume of sites we are likely to visit in the search for that perfect present. While we’re all counting down the days ‘til the holiday season, it’s also time to remember those important tips for shopping safely online, so here are CPP’s top tips for shopping safely online:
• Install anti-virus protection, which scans for malicious files that give the PC or notebook a virus
• Install anti-phishing tools, which identify phishing e-mails and links that trick users into giving away private information
• Install an active firewall, which updates and upgrades automatically, preventing hackers from gaining access to a PC or laptop
• Keep your personal information safe. If someone asks for your personal details ask yourself why they would need them – particularly for online enquiries
• Don’t write down PIN numbers, passwords, user names unless you absolutely have to do so, and if you do, keep them to yourself
• If you store personal information on your PC, install up-to-date security software
• Remember the golden rule: identity thieves are experts at spotting an opportunity to steal your identity and all they need are a few personal details so look after them!
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