More and more people are using the internet to do their Christmas shopping these days and for good reason. It is a lot easier than queueing in the cold, you do not have to carry heavy shopping bags home with you and you do not have to push past the crowds in the shopping centres. For convenience there are many plus points and advantages to shopping online but there are some risks. Your computer could be hacked into and valuable bank or personal details may be sourced by a third-party, or your item may not turn up in time, it could be damaged or the wrong item may be sent. You can minimise the risks however by following some commonsense tips that we have laid out here for you. Have a look through our check list and see if you are Christmas internet shopping ready!
Every computer that has internet access should have upto date firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software protection. There are free anti-virus software on the web such as AVG but, as with most things, if you pay for protection you are more likely to get a better level of service and a more comprehensive protection. Make sure that in your browser options you have applied the highest level of security that you require.
How do you know that the website you are visiting is secure? Look at the browser window and see if the website address begins with an HTTPS. It should also have a small padlock symbol in the browser. Websites that start with just HTTP are not secure. If the website states that it is secure and has the padlock symbol on one of the pages this also is not secure.
How Do I Pay?
If you want extra protection for your purchases then pay with a credit, rather than a debit card. Under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, the credit card company is jointly liable with the retailer for purchases valued between £100 and £60,260. What this means is that if you buy something over the internet that doesn’t turn up, or arrives faulty or damaged, you can pursue the credit card provider for a refund if the retailer refuses to give one or has gone bust. Always make sure you print a copy of the receipt for your order confirmation.
#1. If buying from ebay or other auction sites, look at the feedback to see whether they are a trusted seller. If you are buying from an unfamiliar site, make sure there is a phone number and address so that you can get in touch with the seller should a problem arise. A good way to check an unknown seller is to google them and see if they have any bad reviews.
#2. Don’t just use one password for all your transactions. Try and use several variations on a single one and keep in a locked drawer at home. And try not to use one that your associates may be able to guess, such as a favourite family pet.
#3. Do keep a paper copy of your online transactions by printing off the order transaction but do not bookmark the page. Especially don’t leave passwords or card details on the computer.
Reputable companies will never email you and ask for your password or account details. They will always ask you to log into to your account the usual way. Beware then of emails that include attachments with documents that ask for your personal details, these are most likely to be phishing scams where unscrupulous fraudsters are after your password so that they can access your account. If your firewall and anti-virus software are upto date they should pick up on these but watch out for them yourself.