Security advice given to online-shoppers

Security advice to help protect British shoppers against cyber-crime has been released, as Brits head online for the basics.

 

Internet shopping specialists from NetVoucherCodes.co.uk have revealed their 13 top tips to help UK consumers stay safe when shopping on the web in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

From using a credit card and keeping software up to date, to writing down complicated passwords and making up answers to security questions, online shoppers could avoid becoming a cyber criminal’s next victim by following the guidance.

 

A spokesperson for NetVoucherCodes.co.uk said: “With Britons heading online to shop for the essentials, it’s important to take online security even more seriously.

 

“Browsing the web can be a security minefield for consumers – a computer virus, hacker or fraud could be just one click away.

 

“So to help Brits shop online with greater peace of mind, we’ve revealed the different measures you can take to stay safe when buying something on the internet.”

 

Here is the NetVoucherCodes.co.uk advice:

1. Use a credit card

If you purchase online using a debit card and it turns out to be a scam there’s usually no way to retrieve your money, but fraudulent charges must be reimbursed by credit card companies.

 

Check your statements regularly, just in case a purchase you didn’t make gets through the card provider’s safety net and you need to dispute it. This could also help if a purchase is shows up different to what you ordered, damaged or doesn’t arrive at all.

2. Make up security answers

When creating an account with online shopping sites, you might be asked to set up password reset security questions to confirm your identity.

 

Rather than entering the real town you were born in or mother’s maiden name, enter false answers and write them down if you can’t remember. This makes it much harder for cyber criminals who might be trying to gather information on you.

 

3. Only fill out required fields

 

Don’t offer up any more personal information that is necessary to complete an online purchase.

 

The required fields are usually starred or highlighted when checking out – it’s usually wise to leave the rest blank.

 

4. Never save information

 

Allowing even the most reputable of websites to store your payment or address information is unnecessary.

 

Don’t say yes when your browser suggests saving any passwords either and always log out when you’ve finished shopping.

 

5. Change passwords often

 

Regularly change between complicated, hard to guess, alphanumeric passwords that also contain symbols, even if you have to write them all down somewhere secure at home. Keep them different for each site you use too.

 

Using the same, simple but memorable password for every website for years, such as a pet’s name, is asking for trouble when online shopping.

6. Look for security indicators

A web address (or URL) that begins with ‘HTTPS’ are secure – those without the ‘S’, ‘HTTP’, may not be.

 

Other signs of shopping site security to look out for could include a closed padlock or complete key, possibly green, alongside the URL, next to the search bar or elsewhere around the screen.

 

7. Avoid public Wi-Fi

 

Entering personal information such as credit card details, passwords or home address while using free public Wi-Fi hotspots is dangerous as your data won’t be protected by encryption and could vulnerable to hackers.

 

8. Update your computer

 

Using an older version of a popular internet browser, operating system or anti-virus software on your computer means that you’ll be missing out on important security updates, which could leave you exposed when browsing the web.

 

9. Be extra careful on mobiles

 

Most mobile phones won’t have the same level of anti-virus protection as laptop or desktop computers so extra vigilance is required, particularly around shortened mobile-friendly URLs.

 

Mobile devices are also more likely to be stolen, so make sure any payment details are passcode or fingerprint protected.

 

10. Avoid email links

 

Rather than clicking on potentially suspect links to shopping sites that you see on social media, other websites or in emails, search for the website yourself.

 

This helps to make sure you browse the authentic site. If you’re getting a lot of spam emails, consider setting up a dedicated online shopping only email address.

11. Leave badly designed websites

If a shopping site appears to be out of date, has a strange URL, comes with lots of pop ups, or is dominated by cheap, irrelevant or overseas adverts, the page could be dodgy and worth exiting before it’s too late.

12. Research and read reviews

When considering spending on a new site that you haven’t used before, it can be useful to browse forums and social media to see what experience others have had of shopping there.

 

If you can find a real physical address and verifiable contact details for the company you intend to make a purchase from, they’re probably legitimate.

 

13. Trust your instincts

 

Just as you would when shopping on the high street, if you feel like a website is requesting too much personal information or could harm your computer with viruses, close it.

 

If in any doubt, stick to shopping with sites you know and trust. Remember, if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.