Seasonal Warnings

christmas-1-collageWe’ve just started one of the busiest periods of shopping online, with it’s peak points of Black Friday, and the run up to Christmas. Unfortunately, it also opens the gate to the opportunistic fraudsters.  And as the time to Christmas starts to count down.  With the pressures of organising festivities and working, it’s understandable that some people do become victims.
First of all here are some really useful tips about online shopping from ‘Its Phishing Season’ on Learnvest.
Never click on a suspicious link. That goes for whether or not you know the sender. After all, he or she may have been hacked, and the link might unleash malware that steals your data.
Only shop on a retailer’s actual URL. Check the address of wherever you’re doing your shopping to make sure you’re on the website of the actual company—not a similar-looking one created to mimic the site by thieves who hope you won’t notice.
Make sure the site is secure. An easy way to tell is whether the URL starts with “https.”
Switch your phone to cellular data if you’re shopping on the go. Yes, you might have to eat into some of your data plan, but that’s better than having your financial information stolen because you’re on public Wi-Fi. Even better, install a VPN system on your mobile devices, which encrypts your data.
Use complex, unique passwords for each online retailer. It’s also safer to change them every three to four months. Sure, it’s a pain to keep track of them all, but hey, that’s what password manager tools are for.
Good point about public Wifi. I don’t ever trust it for personal data and transactions, because not only can it be insecure, but fraudsters will also create bogus Wifi networks to get your details.
Now, if you can stand having a few adverts flash up in front of you, have a look at some of these free online tools that can help sort out the good websites from the bad.
  1. AVG’s Threat Labs
  2. Google’s Safe Browsing Site Status
  3. Norton’s Safe Web
  4. Trend Micro’s Site Safety Center
  5. Web of Trust (WOT)
You can also discover what protection software is  available as  extensions or add-ins for your browsers.  Virus Total is a product I use on both Chrome and Firefox. There are also some AVAST products on Chrome.
For Android smart phones and tablets.  There is a large selection of antivirus apps free and paid, that include the functions of checking out and blocking malicious sites, within the ‘Play’ store.  Here is a list of manufactures to consider.  Norton, McAfee, AVAST, AVIRA, Trend Micro, Kaspersky, Malwarebytes, and Bitdefender.  Some of this have also started to provide a feature that will checkout the security of a Wifi connection. And just as remind with apps, before downloading read the reviews and see how many people have downloaded it.
Online Scams
Fraudsters will try and trick you out details through e-mail, or phone, or use a combination of both methods.  If you have not been there please visit the Action Fraud website, for some up to date information from the UK police. They hold some excellent resources and here is one particularly for this time of year.  ‘Don’t get conned this Christmas’
Finally, if you are also in a giving mood there are many charities that could do with your help, a little bit really does go a long long way. ‘Give as you live’ allows you to donate to a UK charity
Hopefully, I have mentioned enough resources above to help keep you safe when you shop this season.  Lets remind ourselves whatever route you choose to get your gifts, shopping for them still is fun!  Have a great season!

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