As Christmas approaches, so are the busiest online shopping days of the year. As so many people head to the web in search of bargains, the number of scams, tricks, and general dangers lie in wait for the unwary shopper.

1. Make sure your computer’s anti-virus and malware detection software is patched and up to date.

Make sure that your computer has any Windows updates installed that are available and an up to date internet browser.

2. Type the web address of your favourite shopping websites into your browser.
Online ads and emails may direct you to bogus sites designed by cyber criminals to extract personal information. When making online purchases, look for HTTPS in the URL window. The extra “S” after HTTP lets you know the website provides a layer of security.

3. Watch for websites, online ads or unsolicited emails with free offers or big discounts.
Be sure not to click on the links or attachments, which could infect your computer with malicious software.

4. Make online purchases using a credit card with a small credit limit.
This limits your potential exposure as if your credit card information was to become compromised you have additional cover with a credit card.

5. Be wary of holiday greetings, news and pictures, with links or attachments.
Verify first that the correspondent sent you the email. Your friends could have had their email address book hijacked by hackers.

6. Never respond to emails from your bank or any financial institution that ask for updated information.
Banks rarely ask customers to update information via email and they never ask you to disclose sensitive information via email. Be cautious of links in emails to update information as these can also be a scam, if in doubt go direct to the company’s website, login there and update your information.

7. Avoid using weak or default passwords for any online site.
Use a different password for each site; store your passwords securely and auto-generate new, strong passwords with a passport software such as LastPass or KeePass.


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