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Be cyber aware when online shopping this Christmas

With the festive period almost here, many people will be turning to the internet to purchase gifts for friends and family. But, whilst online shopping can save you time, and enable you to avoid crowds and long queues, you need to be cyber aware.

Use your common sense online
As with many things in life, if an online deal looks to be good to be true, it probably is. It is worth checking the authenticity of the sites that are offering any deals before you purchase.

Look at company and product reviews as well as doing some research. But bear in mind reviews can be faked, so you should also check other things to verify the site. Look for the padlock and the https at the start of the URL. If the site has this, it's a good indicator that the site is safe to enter payment details.

Avoid public wi-fi
Although plenty of places offer wi-fi these days, it's a good idea to avoid them, especially if you're entering private information. To keep your payment details and log in information safe, only shop using a private wi-fi connection, such as the one in your home.

Public wi-fi is often more vulnerable to spyware and scams that could steal your personal information.

Don't let retailers save your payment information
Although saving your payment details on a retailer’s website can save you time when it comes to future purchases, it could make your personal details more vulnerable to fraud.

If you leave your payment details saved online and that retailer experiences a data breach, your payment information could be compromised. Remember, the more a site knows about you, the more information you risk losing.

Create strong passwords
If you want to create an account with a retailer so you can easily track your order or get a refund, make sure your password is as strong as possible.

Keeping your information safe behind a secure password is one of the most basic ways to ensure you can shop safely. Most websites will advise you to create a strong password when you open an account.

It is also good to try and include different words in your passwords to make them even stronger. Avoid using family names or birthdays as these may be accessible via social media.

Check your account statements regularly
Keeping an eye on your bank statements over the festive period won't necessarily keep your money safe, but it will make it easier to spot any breaches. If you have online or mobile banking, make sure you check your statements weekly, especially when you know you've been shopping online. That way, you can jump on any suspicious activity and flag it with your bank.

Keep your tech up to date
While most people will have a security suite installed, few remember to update it regularly. New viruses and threats are created all the time, so the most up-to-date software and firewalls are crucial to keep your information secure.

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