How to stay safe online this Christmas

December 06 2018

As more and more of us choose online shopping over the busy Christmas high street, the risk of online fraud is ever growing. Black Friday, Cyber Monday and online Christmas sales give way to viruses, phishing scams and identity theft in the millions. In fact, the UK finance fraud losses on UK issued cards totalled £168 million in 2016*.

Luckily there are plenty of ways to stay safe when you shop online. Here’s a few questions to ask yourself to avoid fraud during the festive period and beyond:

Is your password strong enough?

It can be annoying to be made to pick a password with a capital letter, number and symbol, but companies do it for a reason. A strong password can protect you from fraudsters. It’s also useful to pick different passwords for different sites, so if someone guesses one they can’t access every account.

Is that deal too good to be true?

You often see deals online that offer free goods if you pay the postage, or seem too cheap to be real. It’s most likely that they are. Always Google companies to find reviews before you buy from them.

Is PayPal an option?

Companies like PayPal protect you from fraud by keeping your information private. They also have a scheme in place to cover you should the worst happen and you lose money. All you have to do is report the company to them, and they’ll investigate the purchase.

Do you recognise that sender?

If you receive an email and don’t recognise the sender, or the tone seems a bit off, don’t click any links. Lots of fraudsters will pretend to be your bank or other trusted companies to get your details from you. If you’re ever unsure, call the company directly and ask them to verify it.

Do you remember that transaction?

Everyone’s spending increases over Christmas and it can be quite hard to remember every little transaction. That’s why it’s worth going back through your statement regularly and checking. Fraudsters sometimes take a £20 here and there from people’s accounts, ending up with a fortune without being detected.

Have I binned anything important?

With Christmas shopping being done more and more online, your bin will be full of post and packaging. Be sure when you bin something you shred your address, invoices and any other sensitive information. Criminals will gladly go through your rubbish to access your information.

Remember although it’s important to protect your home, criminals don’t always break in through the front door. They’ll just as easily use your browser windows. Stay safe online and have a merry Christmas.

* Overview of fraud and computer misuse statistics for England and Wales

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