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Six tips for risk-free online shopping

life, hacking, online shopping, Boxing day sales, cyber crime

Six tips for risk-free online shopping

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2 minute read

For many of us the internet is fully woven into our lives and we can barely remember the days when we had to use Yellow Pages to find a local plumber’s number or go to the library to find information.

We live in a world where online shopping is now the norm from last-minute Christmas present shopping, booking a ski lodge in the Alps for a new year’s getaway, to the weekly food shop. Online banking is now the convenient alternative to long queues in your local branch and an email is a faster and more eco-friendly way to communicate than the snail-mail post.

Unfortunately, the internet is increasingly becoming a target for crime, and according to the ONS there were 4.5 million cybercrimes in the UK during 2018 including hacking, phishing, and bank account fraud. Phishing is the attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details, often for malicious reasons, by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

Some of you may be looking forward to taking advantage of the Black Friday, January sales or discounted summer holidays from the comfort of your home, snuggled on the sofa during the festive break. Before you embark on your shopping we wanted to give you some top tips on how to stay safe online:

1. Stick to a credit card or PayPal

Debit cards are a riskier option because they are linked to your bank account, so you’re at a much higher risk if someone hacks your information. Credit cards offer more protection and less liability if your card details get stolen. This is one time when it pays to put it on credit.

2, Never use a non-secure site

Before entering any personal or financial information, make sure the site is secure and will not leave your data at risk. You can do this by checking that the ‘http’ at the beginning of the URL has an “s” at the end. If the site doesn’t, this means the site is not encrypted and not secure. For example, this is the URL for Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk

3. Limit how much information you share

Some websites will ask you for optional information when completing your purchase, such as address and phone number etc. The more information you share the more vulnerable you are to cybercrime, so where possible always stick to the minimum information. Also, always try to read the privacy policy to ensure your information will not be shared and sold on.

4. Keep your software updated

Software is constantly being developed to improve security and fight new cyber-attacks. It’s like a flu jab for your device that, without regularly updating, can become vulnerable and leave you feeling sick. Popular software comes from McAfee, Norton, Bitdefender, and Kaspersky for example. Load it into your smartphone, tablet, laptop, and desktop.

5. Don’t fall for the scams

The festive period is an email scammers busiest season to send out viruses and malware in the guise of a gift or special offer. To avoid being fooled, don’t open emails from someone you don’t know or a site you haven’t visited. Cyber criminals send messages pretending to be your bank or other financial institution saying there is an alert or problem with your account. Always call the bank directly to verify any potential problems and never enter your account information in response to an email like this.

6. Don’t go public

Free public WIFI hotspots are a cyber criminals dream. Public networks (coffee shops, airports, restaurants etc.) aren’t secure and any information you enter while using a public network is anyone’s for the taking. Don’t log into banking or payment sites while using a public network.

At Capital, our number one priority is you and your family’s wellbeing and security, therefore we take cyber security seriously. In early 2017 we launched FileSafe, our highly secure cloud for sharing documents and communicating with you. More recently Capital has completed the Cyber Essentials accreditation. This accreditation is widely endorsed by the government and aims to guard against being the victim of cyber threats and demonstrates our commitment to cyber-security.

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