To help prevent you from being conned by the Cyber Grinch, ESET’s Senior Research Fellow, Nick FitzGerald shares a few tips on how to shop safely online this silly season.
What cyber-scamming looks like:
Suspiciously good offers
Scammers frequently trick online shoppers with massive
discounts and amazing deals to:
Capture your private data and financial details while selling products that either don’t arrive or turn out to be cheap knock-offs of the real thing.
Steal your money for a product you will never receive.
Make a profit by adding a high shipping cost without you noticing.
Sell a product that is different from what you ordered, have you return it at
your own expense and keep your initial payment.
Demands for upfront payment
Especially those declaring they have received a prize, gift or package that needs to be delivered – but requires payment of an administrative or postage fee before it can be sent out. Never pay upfront fees for unexpected gifts or prizes.
Check the payment method
Scammers will often ask you to pay for an item with a pre-loaded money or gift card, a wire transfer, or money order. Avoid these payment methods as much as possible.
How to stay safe from the Cyber Grinch (while still shopping):
Shop with reputable online stores you know and trust
Some scammers set up websites or pages that look authentic,
but are just convincing fakes designed to fool you. Be sure to do some careful
research by reading online reviews and recommendations in independent community
forums. If you’re buying expensive products, be especially careful – thoroughly check the store’s business
credentials before paying.
Choose smart payment protection options
Some online payment methods are more secure than others. Fitzgerald
recommends using credit cards where possible. Credit cards are a safe option
for online shopping because your bank will likely be monitoring for any suspicious
activity or unexpected transactions, and can alert you to or even defend you
from cyber-incidents. And, if your
financial details or money do get stolen, you can ask your bank to protect your
account and reverse the charge.
When setting up an account with an online store, Fitzgerald
recommends protecting your data with two-step verification whenever you have
the choice. This will mean that in
addition to the usual password log-in, the store will also send a text or email
to you with a one-time code to further verify your identity.
Check the online store is secure
Look for trustworthy web addresses starting with ‘https’, or those displaying the padlock icon. These mean that any communication between you and the site is encrypted, so that any personal data you send will be protected from anyone trying to intercept it.
Keep an eye on your transactions
Regularly check your bank and credit card history and
statements to confirm no compromises for your finance. If your bank offers
real-time update options, choose to “opt-in” to mobile messages or email
notifications on your transactions. If anything in your statements seems
suspicious, call your bank straight away – it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Install effective security software to help stop the cyber grinch
“Old software is more vulnerable to online hackers so ensure
your devices and apps are updated to prevent any cyber-attacks”.