Love it or hate it, shopping is something we all need to do. Thanks to advancements in technology, there are more ways than ever to do it; on an app, in-store collection, click and collect, using Amazon storage lockers, and with real-time delivery updates, it’s never been easier to shop if you don’t have the time or need, to head to a store near you. This means you can get your shopping done without leaving your sofa to queue up in shops, and being disappointed when retailers have run out of the last item on your wish list within a 30-mile radius. So with all of these developments in shopping, how can you make sure that you’re protected?
Warning email – something has gone wrong
You might get an email from Amazon, Apple, Paypal (or any other known retailer) telling you that your account has been compromised; or even more convincing, an email invoice for something you don't recognise or remember buying.
Given the stress of getting on top of your shopping lists, you might be very tempted to click on the link. Once clicked, your machine, phone or laptop are almost immediately in trouble. They could be infected with malware that is designed to get your username and passwords for your online banking and social media. Your social media accounts might be closed down, and funds from your savings transferred.
Our top tips to stay safe
Here are some top tips to keep you and your money safe whilst bagging those bargains and getting through your Xmas list:
Only buy from websites you know
It's worth thinking twice about online offers from unknown brands selling luxury items at bargain prices. Avoid clicking on sales links in emails as these can lead to fake websites that look like the real thing – type the website name directly into the address bar instead, and search for reviews before purchasing. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Use a secure payment method
Never use a bank transfer to pay someone you don't know, even if you are buying something through a social media site. Bank transfers make it much harder to get your money back if things go wrong. To make sure you stay safe, don't transfer money to sellers, where possible pay on PayPal or a credit card.
Look for the padlock symbol
The padlock symbol in the address bar means that your connection is secure, but be aware – it does not necessarily mean the website is genuine. Try to avoid online shopping on public Wi-Fi hotspots too, as fraudsters are sometimes able to hack the network and steal any personal information you share.
Watch out for the feedback emails
Once all your shopping is complete, you may get emails asking you to review your purchases. They "spray and prey", take Amazon emails for instance, they will ask the recipient to click to feed back on their 'recent purchase' – and who doesn't use Amazon! It can download password stealing malware for all sorts of applications or something more hideous.
Don't go public
We all love to take a break and grab a coffee, and some of us want to use the free WIFI whilst at it. Hackers love free WIFI too. These can appear impersonating genuine brands such as "Starbucks - Free". Any information you enter over a public network is vulnerable. Don't log into banking sites or Paypal on a public network and make sure you are logged out of these sites if you do connect to a public network.
We hope you've found the above tips useful whilst you're thinking about staying safe and protecting your details. Any questions about staying safe or have some top tips of your own, why not pop along to our Homesafe discussion and share them with the community.
I work in Information Security and Security Risk Management, I love improving peoples knowledge around security and safe practices online. I'm always sharing tips to protect against security threats that we face in our every day lives.