December 19th 2014
Are you ready for Christmas? Or maybe you still have shopping to do for those last minute presents and Christmas goodies. Most online stores are telling us we still have time to order online in time for delivery before Christmas. But you still need to remember to follow some basic rules to keep you safe and secure to avoid at best, disappointment and at worst, your bank account being emptied.
Here are our top tips to stay safe doing your last minute shopping:
DON’T TRANSFER MONEY
Always pay for items you buy online by card on a secure payment page, by cheque or by cash, in person. However desperate you are to secure an item, never transfer money into the seller’s account, as you may never see the goods or your money ever again.
CHECK THAT PAYMENT PAGES ARE SECURE
Before you enter your card details on a payment page, make sure it’s is secure by checking that the address starts with ‘https’ (the ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’) and there’s a padlock or unbroken key symbol in the browser window.
USE A CREDIT CARD
Still talking about payments, remember that you have more chance of getting your money back in the event of problems if you pay by credit card rather than debit card. Some sellers may charge a premium, but it could well be worth the extra for peace of mind.
USE AUCTION SITES SAFELY
At Christmas time, many of us buy from auction sites like eBay. Always use insured payment methods like PayPal instead of paying sellers directly. Read the site and seller’s conditions. And for your personal safety, take someone with you or let someone know where you are if you’re collecting in person.
CHECK OUT BARGAINS WITH CARE
If you find or are emailed about an item that seems just too much of a bargain, it could be a scam, fake goods or it doesn’t match the description. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
USE EMAIL SAFELY
An email urging you to click on a link to reveal a special offer, to open an attachment containing some great news, or to “confirm details” or “reset your account”, could well be a scam, even if it appears to come from a reputable source. If in doubt, delete the email and don’t respond to or forward it.
LOG OUT OF SECURE WEBSITES
When you’ve finished your online shopping session on a website, always log out of the site … it only takes a second. Sometimes, just closing the window doesn’t mean you’ve logged out, and someone else could gain access to your account and personal details. Don’t forget to save the confirmation email as a record of your purchase.
MAKE SURE WI-FI IS SECURE
At home or other premises you know, make sure the Wi-Fi is secured. When you’re out and about – in the café, the pub or a hotel for example – you can’t guarantee it’s secured even if you have to enter a code. When you’re shopping, banking or making other online payments, it’s better to connect with 3G or 4G, even if it’s slower.
BEWARE OF SCAM PHONE CALLS
If someone posing as a retailer calls you to confirm an online purchase, it could well be a scam. The idea is that you won’t remember the purchase, and call your bank. However, the fraudster stays on the line, and tricks you into revealing your financial details. If this happens, hang up, don’t call back, and report it!
CHECK BANK STATEMENTS
Check your bank and credit card accounts regularly for irregular or unauthorised transactions. If you spot any entries you don’t recognise, contact your bank without delay. Make sure your bank has your up-to-date contact details so they can alert you if they spot anything unusual.
Whatever you're doing, have a happy, peaceful and safe festive season.