Buying presents online? Make sure you know how to protect yourself

Don’t let online scammers steal your Christmas cheer this year
You’re making a list, you’re checking it twice, you’re settling down in front of your laptop with a glass of vino to get started on your Christmas shopping. Battling it out in over-crowded shopping centres is for suckers according to the latest figures – 70 per cent of Australians plan to do at least part of their Christmas shopping online.

Purchasing presents from the comfort of the couch seems flawless – almost. Just as it is for Santa Clause, the Christmas rush is a busy time of year for online scammers.

“The potential for identity theft increases as consumers share more personal information across multiple devices that are often under protected,” says Sean Duca from security technology company McAfee.

“Understanding criminals’ mindsets and being aware of how they try to take advantage of consumers can help ensure that we use our devices to enhance our lives, not jeopardise them.”

Duca says the most common scams online shoppers fall victim at this time of year are deals on must-have items like iPads that seem too good to be true, phony shipping notifications that carry malware designed to harm your software and fake gift cards often promoted via social media.

Phony e-tailers – websites that look like legitimate online stores but really fake – are another common problem.

But don’t shutdown your laptop and head off to fight with the masses just yet. There are some simple but effective checks you can use before you begin the annual Christmas shop-fest.

1. Secure sites will have web addresses beginning with https:// (note the extra ‘s’). If in doubt, shop elsewhere.

2. Review apps: Many brands have launched apps that allow us to shop direct from our smart phones and tablets. Be sure to check the reviews of an app before you download to confirm it’s legit.

3. To avoid being scammed the safest bet is to purchase directly from the official retailer of the product you’re buying. But if that’s discount is too tempting, at least compare the RRP with the official website. If the offer seems too good to be true, there’s a good chance it is.

4. Check gift cards that you receive for suspicious misspellings in the sender’s name or the name of the card company itself. Double-check web addresses on the sites you use for shopping and look at customer reviews to verify an e-tailer’s legitimacy.

5. Don’t click on the link in a shipping notification alert email if you don’t recall the purchase. It could infect your PC with malware such as keystroke recording software.

6. Make sure your entire household’s devices have protection, such as McAfee LiveSafe, which protects all your PCs, Macs, tablets and smartphones.


Article courtesy of Nine MSN / Shop ‘Til You Drop

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