How to stay safe and secure when shopping online
According to a report released in January, online shoppers in Britain spent an average of £1,500 each last year racking up a whopping £50 billion outlay on internet retail.
The figure, which represents 12 per cent of the country’s total retail expenditure, appears to show that we are not only more tech-savvy, but that we also increasingly trust online retailers to literally deliver the goods.
Of course, while the benefits of spending online are very apparent there is no room for complacency when it comes to web safety.
Quidblog runs through a few handy tips to help you minimise security risks when using the internet for spending sprees.
Beef up security
It’s should go without saying, but having up-to-date anti-virus software is a great first line of defence in the fight against online fraud. Scanning for viruses, including Trojans and worms they warn users of possible dangers and lead them away from potentially malicious websites. While free downloads and standalone packages are available, the best protection comes from annual subscriptions to full suites which cost around £40-£50. A suite should cover all the bases, share a single user interface and be easier and cheaper than buying each individual program separately.
Update your browser
Ensure you’re using a modern web browser such as the latest versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari. These browsers offer protection against malicious activity and steer you away from sites known to endanger the online experience of users.
Credit over debit
Use a credit card for purchases between £100 - £60,260 online and there’s a good chance you’ll be reimbursed if something goes wrong. Credit cards fall under the Consumer Credit Directive, meaning that your card provider is jointly liable with the actual supplier for any purchases you make.The same doesn’t necessarily apply if you use your current account to make a payment.
Secure your network
Password protect your wi-fi connection and set up suitable firewall cover at home and resist the temptation to use public connections for online shopping purposes. If you do use a computer to surf the web in a coffee shop or at an internet café make sure people can’t see you entering personal details – a privacy screen or filter is advisable if you regularly work in public.
Beware of spam and scams
If you receive an email from someone you do not know, an unusual link from a friend’s account or an urgent message from a company or organisation which looks suspicious, do not open them or any attachments! Phishing scams attempt to trick people into giving sensitive information using phoney websites which ask for login and password details. This data is then collated and used to hack accounts. Delete the offending emails as soon as possible and report the scam via your email provider. If you want to scan your computer and see if you’re infected, you can do so here.
Internet users should constantly update their passwords for all their accounts. They should be difficult to crack (involving numbers, letters and both upper and lowercase symbols) and should be unique for each account. Under no circumstances should the information be written down and stored near your computer and if possible it’s best to resist leaving passwords auto-saved on different sites.
Be knowledgeable about online auctions
If you are new to online auctions, take the time to read the online guides provided by the auction company so you understand how the system works and what the rules are. Be wary of sellers who have lots of negative feedback and be sure to ask questions via email to clarify details. Be clear about shipping and delivery costs and methods of payment and if any surcharges are likely because of your method of payment.
Know your distance selling rights
Check your cancellation rights before making a purchase: under the Distance Selling Regulations (DSRs), you can get a full refund on many products if you cancel within seven working days after the day you receive the goods. Make sure you keep bought goods in the best possible condition before returning and remember that traders are allowed deduct a restocking charge or administration fee. Goods should be delivered within 30 days after the date of order, unless you agree to a different delivery timeframe.
Look for trust symbols
Always be on the lookout for third party seals of approval and stick to using familiar sites and those with positive user feedback. Keeping an eye out for the padlock symbol in the URL and for addresses starting 'https' are also important indicators. Trust your gut instinct; if a site doesn’t look or feel right, it’s probably best to give it a wide berth.
Pay attention to user feedback
A trader may have a great website, but that doesn’t necessarily make them reliable. Check their details and make sure you understand a website’s feedback function works. Feedback will give you useful information about recent transactions other buyers have made.
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