Black Friday & Cyber Monday: Stay safe shopping online

We all love a good bargain, which is why events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, where retailers typically discount goods by hefty amounts, have become so popular. And with a whopping £1.4bn spent on online sales in the UK on Black Friday last year1, we’re wanting to help you be alert to the risk of identity theft and bogus websites while doing your Black Friday shopping this year. Why? Because whilst it may seem a safer bet to shop online to avoid the chaos and manic scramble in stores, the world wide web offers its own risks, due to fraudsters trying to get their hands on your personal information.

Follow our five simple tips to help you stay safe when shopping online…

Avoid sites that don’t look or feel right

When chasing those amazing deals in the lead up to Christmas, it can be tempting to click through to unknown websites on the promise of the best savings, but remember that when offers look too good to be true, they often are.

Before clicking on offers, always do some checks online to find out whether or not the site is legitimate. It’s also a good idea to check that the website URL is spelt correctly, as cyber criminals will often create copy-cat versions of popular sites to try and con you out of your cash. If it doesn’t feel right then be wary.

Look for padlocks

Before you hand over your payment details, always make sure that the website you’re on uses secure software.  When you’re at the checkout screen, check that the web address begins with https and that an image of a tiny locked padlock appears in the address bar or the bottom right corner of the screen.

Don’t tell too much

To make a transaction online, remember that legitimate retailers wouldn’t ask you for personal information like your date of birth, your mother’s maiden name or your National Insurance number. If you’re asked for this, it could be a sign that the website is fraudulent, as criminals will be after this type of information to steal your identity. Remember, if you’ve got any concerns, don’t enter in any of your personal information.

Beware of free WiFi

It’s a good idea to try to avoid accessing secure websites or inputting your personal details while using a free or public Wi-Fi connection where possible. That’s because fraudsters could be watching everything you are typing and viewing over the internet connection.  If you do have to use a public WiFi connection, then make sure your firewall and anti-virus software on your device is up to date.

Pay by card for extra protection

If you’re spending over £100 online then, where possible, it’s a good idea to pay by credit card, as it will give you more protection if anything goes wrong and you’ll have a stronger chance of getting a refund should a criminal get their hands on your money.  Always remember to consider if you can comfortably afford the repayments as well. Click here for more information about your rights and protection when paying by card.

1 Statistic taken from: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42143842