Nowadays, cyber security is a critical part of our daily lives. You should use every possible precaution when doing business electronically – especially in COVID times when many are working from home. The Christmas season also brings some cyber threats in itself, so it’s crucial to stay alert even during the holidays. Globally there were 90 disclosed data breaches and cyber attacks in December 2019, with 627,486,696 records breached.
Cybercriminals are busy finding new and innovative ways to try to scam people out of their cash and steal personal information, especially in the run up to Christmas. But this year, Salt Communications are sharing our own tips and tricks on how to stop online scammers and help you stay safe during the holiday season.
Scams to lookout for:
An essential thing to watch out for when doing your holiday shopping is when pressure strategies are used by an online retailer. This is to make the consumer assume that the offers will not last if they wait, so before they have a chance to even think about it, they commit to the purchase.
A trustworthy online seller may state that a deal is available “only for a limited time,” but if you are told that a specific offer is “now or never,” some red flags should certainly be raised.
In order to make an informed purchase, credible businesses offering legitimate deals will give you ample time. Vendors who encourage you to buy or miss out, prey as quickly as possible on the fact that you’re going to jump at the chance to catch a deal when in truth, you could be risking your financial information.
If products are being marketed as free, you should also be sceptical. As you know, in exchange, sellers would never give something for free, and even the most compelling pitches can have an ulterior motive.
Scammers will be searching for every chance this time of year to hurriedly trip up people doing their Christmas shopping with more people doing their shopping online due to COVID-19. Often when deals seem too good to be true, and pushes you to act on opportunity due to an extremely tight deadline they are doing so to reduce your thought process and hope you miss the scam that may be there.
A common scam, which comes from a saved contact, promising a free £100 voucher to use at a number of large retailers, has recently been alerted to WhatsApp users. The scam cleverly tricks the user to click a link that appears to lead to the website of the retailer, only to guide users to a scam website that install cookies on the phone of the victim and serves them advertising as they surf the web, eventually serving as the cybercriminal’s revenue.
It can also be used as a phishing attack, tricking users into a seemingly legitimate website to give away passwords and thus putting their money at risk. We need to raise our awareness of the techniques and remain alert as scammers are becoming more sophisticated in the way they target customers and use our most common means of communication as an attack vector.
A smart way to safely shop online is also to learn to recognise the signs of a fake website. A common scam known as ‘spoofing‘ includes the creation of a website by a hacker that looks just like a legitimate online seller. They will take the name, logo and website design of the trusted brand, then select a URL as similar to the genuine web address as possible.
In the hope that people will unknowingly try to buy something on the site, this scam preys on customers who may incorrectly type in the web address or as a link in a spam email. Once you have typed in the details of your card, they will store them and sell them.
This tactic gives customers a false sense of security when they just give their sensitive information to cybercriminals through this similar, but fake website. This Christmas, before buying anything or putting in any significant data, make sure you double-check the URL on any website.
Protecting your payments:
Spoofing is not the only possible threat when you enter an online checkout with your card details. You have to make sure that the website and the payments you use are safe.
Making sure the website is safe
Check the beginning of the URL in your search bar when shopping online. This should start with ‘https:/ ‘and not just ‘http:/’ at all times. This is the best way to ensure that the data you put in at the checkout is protected, from your card details to your home address.
The reason this is so important is that ‘s’ stands for secure, meaning that it encrypts all the data transmitted between you and the server. They wouldn’t be able to read or use your information if any cybercriminals happened to hack the store’s server.
Make sure that not every website uses the same password, too. Many of us are guilty of this, but they might use it to access any of your online accounts, possibly including PayPal, if a scammer has both your email address and a commonly used password.
Using a credit card
Although this is not a requirement, many people recommend that when you shop online, you always use a credit card rather than a debit card. This is because Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act notes that the credit card company would be “jointly and severally” responsible as well as the retailer if anything were to go wrong with an online transaction.
Say that you bought an online product using your credit card that costs anywhere between £100 and £30,000. You would have the right to claim the money back from your card issuer if the item was defective upon delivery or just never showed up, and you were unable to get your money back from the vendor. However the same rules would not apply if you purchased the item with your credit card through PayPal or a similar payment system. That’s because the agreement with the credit card company would be with PayPal and not the retailer.
If there’s an internet guarantee on your credit card, that is even better. Internet guarantees are a valuable extra for internet shoppers, as Michelle Slade of MoneyFacts states. “It means that you are covered by the cost of online fraudulent transactions, although the exact terms and conditions vary from issuer to issuer.”
Stay safe online this Christmas
During the Holiday period of last year retail fraud rose by 15%, with 2020 estimated to rise again. Follow this advice to protect yourself whilst shopping online and if you would like to have a cyber-safe Christmas and may require further assistance feel free to reach out to our team for more information on this article. To sign up for a free trial of Salt Communications or to talk to a member of the Salt Communications team, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Salt Communications
Salt Communications is a multi-award winning cyber security company providing a fully enterprise-managed software solution giving absolute privacy in mobile communications. It is easy to deploy and uses multi-layered encryption techniques to meet the highest of security standards. Salt Communications offers ‘Peace of Mind’ for Organisations who value their privacy, by giving them complete control and secure communications, to protect their trusted relationships and stay safe. Salt Communications is headquartered in Belfast, N. Ireland, for more information visit our website.