Tips to avoid online fraud

Tips to avoid online fraud

Jude McCorry, styreleder, CyberScotland Partnership <i>(Photo: Gary Baker)</i>” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/″ data-src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/ “/></div>
<p><figcaption class=Jude McCorry, Chair, CyberScotland Partnership (Photo: Gary Baker)

Jude McCorry is Chairman, CyberScotland Partnership

THE festive shopping season is just a click away, with Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday promotions and post-Christmas sales just around the corner.

Unfortunately, it has also become a popular season for online scammers. The National Cyber ​​Security Center (NCSC) recently revealed that online shoppers lost an average of £1,000 per person during last year’s festive sales due to fraudsters.

While the cost of living crisis is likely to see more people than ever taking advantage of seasonal sales to save money at the online till, it’s also just as likely that criminals lurk behind every page waiting to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers.

The good news is that there are some simple rules you can follow to ensure your online shopping experience is as safe as possible. And they apply not only to this particular season, but all year round:

• Too-good-to-be-true offers usually are: Be wary of ads that land in inboxes and news feeds. View everything with suspicion, whether it comes via email, text message, phone call or social media.

These “amazing deals” could be for the latest gadgets, tickets to events or invitations; but may be linked to fake websites designed to steal your money and personal information.

If something doesn’t feel right, don’t click on a link; and if you can, report it by forwarding the message to [email protected] by email or 7726 on your mobile.

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• Know exactly where you’re shopping: A padlock icon in your browser’s address bar is a good sign of security – so if you don’t see it, don’t enter any personal or payment details. But the padlock alone is no guarantee that the site is legitimate.

One of the biggest advantages of the internet age is being able to fully research where you are buying from. Check reviews, ideally on a third-party website, before you buy anything.

In addition, using a credit card or online payment platforms such as PayPal, Apple Pay or Google Pay provides additional layers of protection. If the site is not legitimate, or if it is hacked and your payment details are stolen, your bank account will not be directly affected.

• Be their guest: Prevent online retailers from storing your details by checking out as a “guest”, which greatly reduces the risk of being hacked later.

Ensure that all existing merchant accounts use their own distinct password. Using three random words is a great way to make it harder to hack.

• Keep track of your purchases: The risk of fraud does not end once you have made the purchase.

If you receive an email from a courier you don’t recognize, double-check the details against your confirmation email – especially if they ask you to click a link or provide information.

If you are ever in doubt, contact the retailer or courier to confirm if the email is genuine.

Just as organizations are advised to adopt a “zero trust” approach to cyber security, we as shoppers should do the same when shopping online. In other words, don’t let your eagerness for a deal cloud your judgment. Make your list and check everything twice before checking out online.

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More advice on how to stay protected while shopping online can be found on the CyberScotland website

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