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10 tips for safe online shopping

As the busiest shopping season of the year rolls back around, a cybersecurity expert shares some useful advice.

Written by High Life North
Published 01.12.2022

It’s officially Christmas now December has come back around. And that means it’s also officially shopping season.

It’s undoubtedly the busiest time of the year for all retailers, especially with the rise of Black Friday sales and Cyber Monday deals. It feels like there’s a bargain to be had at every turn.

But how do we know a genuine website from a scam?

It’s important to stay vigilant and keep ourselves safe from hackers, with fraudulent tricks more sophisticated and better camouflaged than ever.

Which is why we’ve enlisted the help of online safety expert Chris Bluvshtein at VPN Overview – who has kindly shared his top 10 tips for keeping ourselves safe while shopping online.

 

STICK TO WEBSITES YOU KNOW

You might be tempted by a Google link promising an amazing deal, but before you click – look at the name. If it’s not a brand you recognise, don’t go there.

Hackers can use similar names to high street brands to trick you into giving up your data, so even if brands look familiar, always double check the site you could be clicking on is the one you know is legit.

Google also tells you if you’ve visited the site before, so it’s worth taking your time and checking for those details.

CHECK THE URL BAR

This is where you’ll find the ‘www.’.

Every website should have a valid security certificate; you can tell if the website you’re on has one by whether there is a little padlock icon next to the URL.

If a website doesn’t have one of these padlocks, then don’t give your bank details or valuable information.

 

CHECK YOUR BANK STATEMENTS

You might not even be aware of your details being stolen until it’s too late. But, by making it a habit to check your bank statements, you’ll be able to catch any suspicious activity early.

Your bank will have information on any time limits they have for fraudulent purchases, so be sure to keep an eye on your statements.

 

USE A PASSWORD MANAGER

The safest thing you can do is use a unique, randomised password for all your accounts.

But instead of writing those down on post-it notes or in notebooks, use a password manager to keep them all in one place.

Password managers lock your information behind a master password and many of them autofill the website logins for you, keeping you safe from keylogger attacks.

DON’T SHOP ON PUBLIC WI-FI

You might be tempted to hop onto your favourite shop’s site while having a coffee at your local café, but that public Wi-Fi connection is extremely dangerous to use.

Public Wi-Fi rarely has safety protocols such as passwords in place – so hackers can piggyback and steal unsecured banking details and sensitive information without you knowing.

 

USE MOBILE PAYMENTS

Apps like Apple Pay and Google Pay can protect your banking details.

So, if a website accepts them, it’s best to use them instead of your debit card.

 

USE A CREDIT CARD

If your purchase is high value, don’t use your debit card to pay for it.

Consumer law in the UK means that you could get refunds or claim your money back if your card is stolen. Credit cards also have more protections than debit cards.

SET UP A TEMPORARY BANK ACCOUNT

By opening an online-only bank account – such as Revolut or Monzo – you can control the amount of money you have access to with transfers from your usual account.

This way, even if your details are compromised, the hacker can’t do anything to your real bank account.

 

USE A VPN

A VPN protects your data from prying eyes.

Everything you send is encrypted, so even if a hacker can see you on a network, they won’t be able to access your sensitive information.

VPNs connect you to a remote server and hide your IP; using one, along with any of our other tips, can make your online shopping super secure.

 

IF IT SEEMS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS

Be careful with any adverts for really amazing deals.

You might never get the item, or there could be hidden dangers. This old saying still rings true with online shopping.

For more advice on how to stay safe online, visit VPN Overview

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