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Shop safely this Christmas with our online safety tips

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have all but gone, but with Christmas around the corner, people's online shopping game remains strong. But shopping for gifts online should be treated with caution...



While the convenience of online shopping is undeniable at any time of the year, in the run-up to Christmas it's even more crucial that you observe cyber security practices to safeguard your personal and financial information.


This blog contains nothing new or revolutionary when it comes to tips and guidance, but it will provide you with those essential safety tips to ensure a secure and enjoyable Christmas shopping experience online.


Shop from secure websites


Stick to reputable and well-known websites when making your online purchases. Look for "https://" in the website URL, indicating a secure connection. Avoid clicking on links from unknown sources, as they may lead to fraudulent websites designed to steal your information.


Keep software and antivirus programs updated


Ensure that your device's operating system, browser, and antivirus software are up to date. Regular updates often include security patches that protect your system from the latest threats. Enable automatic updates to stay protected against evolving cyber threats.


Use strong passwords


Create unique and strong passwords for your online accounts. Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters or three random words. Avoid using easily guessable information, such as your name or birthdate. Consider using a password manager to generate and store complex passwords securely.


Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)


Add an extra layer of security to your accounts by enabling two-factor authentication (or multi-factor authentication) whenever possible. This usually involves receiving a one-time code on your phone or email, which you must enter along with your password to access your account.


Beware of phishing scams


Cyber criminals often use phishing emails or fake websites to trick consumers into providing personal information. Be skeptical of unexpected emails, especially those urging you to click on links or download attachments. Verify the legitimacy of emails by contacting the sender directly or checking the official website.



Review bank statements regularly


Keep a close eye on your bank and credit card statements. Regularly review your transactions to detect any unauthorised or suspicious activity. Report any discrepancies to your bank or building society immediately.


Use credit cards wisely


Credit cards generally offer better fraud protection than debit cards. Consider using a credit card for your online purchases, as it often allows for easier resolution in case of fraudulent transactions. Monitor your credit card statements and report any unauthorised charges promptly.


Be cautious with public Wi-Fi


Avoid making purchases or accessing sensitive information while connected to public Wi-Fi networks. Public networks may lack proper security measures, making it easier for cyber criminals to intercept your data. If necessary, use a virtual private network (VPN) for a more secure connection.


Check seller reviews


Before making a purchase from a lesser-known online retailer, check reviews and ratings from other customers. This can give you insights into the reliability and reputation of the seller, helping you make informed decisions.


But be careful: fake reviews are everywhere (particularly on Amazon). Be suspicious of short, generalised comments, whether positive or negative - particularly any that are excessively complimentary. Use tools such as the browser extension Fakespot from Mozilla to evaluate reviews on a variety of sites and the site ReviewMeta for Amazon reviews.


When you're purchasing electronics, the best way to judge whether a product is worth buying is to look for an external review on a reliable site.


Is it real or AI?


You may have seen AI-generated ads using cleverly engineered videos that use “celebrities” to endorse a product a money-making crypto scheme. These are deep fake ads, and have generated videos of money saving expert Martin Lewis, You Tube sensation Mr. Beast, X owner and billionaire businessman Elon Musk and ex-footballer David Beckham to name just a few.


The quality of the fake celebrity varies. A deep fake of Morgan Freeman was scarily convincing, while the fake Beckham speaks 9 different languages and has a very strong American twang when he speaks English. The offer, bargain or scheme which the “celebrity” is endorsing often sounds too good to be true. And as we always say, when that’s the case, it often is too good to be true.


Conclusion


By following these safety tips, you can minimise the risks associated with online shopping and enjoy your yuletide shopping spree.


Prioritising cyber security practices ensures that your personal and financial information remains secure, allowing you to make the most of the festive shopping season without compromising your online safety. Happy Christmas shopping!

 

Reporting

Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to report@phishing.gov.uk. Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).

 

The contents of blog posts on this website are provided for general information only and are not intended to replace specific professional advice relevant to your situation. The intention of East Midlands Cyber Resilience Centre (EMCRC) is to encourage cyber resilience by raising issues and disseminating information on the experiences and initiatives of others. Articles on the website cannot by their nature be comprehensive and may not reflect most recent legislation, practice, or application to your circumstances. EMCRC provides affordable services and Trusted Partners if you need specific support. For specific questions please contact us by email.

 

EMCRC does not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information or materials published on this blog. EMCRC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites that link to this site or which are linked from it.

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