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From a Victim to a Safe Online Shopper!

It’s the 8th December, already the twelve scams of Christmas has been posted however, with Christmas now only 2weeks and 3 days away – not that were counting, we thought at Brick Technology we would offer you a gentle reminder about shopping online and things to look out for. 

You insisted that this year it would be different and you would do all your shopping in advance so that you could have a stress free run up to Christmas. However just like all those other times, what you said didn’t exactly go to plan and you find yourself leaving it to the last minute once again!

You really cannot see the point in going down to your local town centre and wasting time whether it is trying to find a car park space on those ever so busy car parks or just simply standing and waiting in a queue with all those other people who also vowed to be organised this year!

So like many other people, you have internet access and you decide to do your Christmas shopping online and have it delivered straight to your door – but are you in that much of a rush? Take just five minutes out to read these useful hints and tips to ensure that you don’t get caught out and made a victim.

1) Make sure that you scan your system! Run a full system scan before you decide to search out those online Christmas bargains. Malware codes are constantly being changed and implemented - some can send out all the information you type and send it direct to a hacker. Yes, that does mean that unfortunately that present you bought for your other half and those bank details you entered could well be on the way to a hacker! You should scan your system on a regular basis anyway to avoid attacks on your computer.

2) Make sure that your software is all updated. Just like shopping, with new technology being introduced and new items being brought out like new phones and new features added to existing products it is important that you are up to date so that your system can have as few exploitation issues. This can be done by clicking “help” the tab at the top of your browser and then “search for updates” or something similarly worded.

3) With the majority of users of a computer using a Windows XP operating system it would be silly for these hackers to bring out malware targeted at less commonly used operating systems. Therefore if you have a choice of say Mac, Vista or Linux then it may be slightly safer to use one of these to shop online as most malware is targeted at exploiting windows XP.

4) Don’t have access to a computer or maybe internet at home? Don’t be tempted to do your Christmas shopping or any financial dealings on a public computer. Internet cafes are a no no! You have no idea who has been on them before you what malware is on the system and scamming internet cafe owners could even have put monitoring equipment in place – unfortunately this does happen.

Work computers however, if you are working in a large company security measures may well be very good however just ensure that you do have some sense about you as it is most likely they will monitor your web traffic as well.

5) Top secret – just like you don’t want those you love finding out what gifts and treats you have bought them, well we want that motto applying to your security level! Go into browser settings and turn the level of security right up to the top. This alerts your system mini bots to be on guard for anything suspicious.

6) Read everything! Make sure that what your actually bidding on is not just a picture of it or a manual and then make sure you read up on customer reviews ensuring that it is legitimate. Check the delivery and add on costs as what can seem like a Christmas bargain at face value may not end up being at checkout! Ensure the item is in stock most places will not let you checkout if it isn’t however some will and then will make you wait for stock to come in. Not good when Christmas day is fast approaching.

7) Spoofed! Make sure you are not a victim of this common online scam. You could be going to check out and be actually taken to a page that looks exactly like the Amazon, or checkout or wherever it is that you’re shopping but it is just tricking you into providing your personal details, bank and most important card details. Check that the URL doesn’t change to include spelling changes etc.

8) Look for the padlock symbol this is a sign to yourself at the checkout that it is secure and you can look for this at either the end of the address bad on the bottom right of your window however this is different for each individual browser so make sure you have a look around for it. Bear in mind if you are using a large site such as for instance PayPal and it is not visible then there is something wrong.

9) Use a credit card rather than a debit card. The difference being that with a debit card the money leaves your account instantly whereas with the credit card both you and your lender have time to stop the payment should you find out that you have been selected as a victim. Most cases however within the UK, your bank is entitled to refund you the money.

10) If you have not been prompted automatically to register on Mastercard Secure Code or Visa Verify schemes then make sure you do it yourself. You enter a password which only you know and so it is very hard for people to use your card unless you are actually with them – were assuming you are not about to meet up with someone who is scamming you and declare this password and so you get the idea on how it is that bit more secure.

Do not be put off shopping online as believe it or not it is actually very convenient and there are lots of brilliant discounts and bargains to be had this year! Just make sure that you keep some common sense about you and you keep these useful tips very much in your head.