How to stay safe when you shop online

Protect yourself and your money with our handy tips

As you might expect, the team here at Quidco absolutely loves shopping online. It’s a great time saver, the choice is amazing, delivery speeds and returns are quickening all the time and of course, there’s all manner of cashback offers up for grabs.

That said, as with anything in life, there are a few pitfalls that can cause the occasional hiccup.

We run through a few tips to help you stay safe when you’re browsing and purchasing on the Internet.

Use credit cards rather than debit cards to pay

By and large credit cards offer consumers more protection than debit cards when shopping online. One of the big advantages is that credit card accounts aren’t actually link to the funds you own.

If what you’ve bought doesn’t get delivered or is faulty, you’ll be covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act meaning you can claim the money back. Items must have cost more than £100 to qualify. Goods worth under £100, or payments made by debit card, can be recovered via your bank through ‘chargeback’.

If you’re shopping on eBay or other auction sites, stick to paying with PayPal.

Don’t use public Wi-Fi

If you’re shopping on the go it’s better to use your network operator’s connection rather than a public Wi-Fi service. Believe us, all the convenience offered by a speedy public Wi-Fi connection is offset by the many hacking risks associated.

If you do opt to use public Wi-Fi, make sure you connect manually and check the authenticity of the connection – it should be password protected by either a WPA or WPA2 password. Once online, make sure the sites you visit are encrypted where possible. Look to see if https is mentioned at the beginning of the URL to check this. When you’re done with your session make sure you logout out of the public network and even turn off your Wi-Fi.

Be wary of scammers

At Quidco we do our utmost to ensure we only work with reputable companies and brands. Of course, in addition to our 4,300 retail partners there’s a whole world of shopping possibilities on the web and not all sites are necessarily what they seem.

We live by the rule, ‘if it looks too good to be true, it probably is…’

There are plenty of scammers on the Internet, many of whom send spam emails, so check the URL of the website. It could be a close copy of a genuine retailer or may contain a recognisable name. In particular, avoid domain names that end in .net or .org – neither of these domain names tend to specialise in online shopping.

If you ever think that you’ve been linked to a dodgy site via Quidco, by all means verify the link by contacting out Support team.

Stay alert when checking emails

Phishing emails are one of the most common tactics from fraudsters. They often look as though they’ve been sent by reputable companies or institutions and tend to contain links to malicious software or spoof websites that ask for personal details.

As the busiest shopping period of the year approaches, be aware of emails from these imitation sites and never click in any links embedded in the message.

The dangers of social media

As well as email phishing scams you should also ignore sales pitches sent out of the blue to your social media accounts and to your phone by SMS.

There’s been a marked increase in recent years of third party scammers trying to lure people to their site using fake vouchers sent via Whatsapp. Whatsapp warn on their own blog that they do not directly contact users of their service stating…

You may be the target of a deceptive scheme if any of the following describes a message you receive, via WhatsApp or email:

– The sender claims to be affiliated with WhatsApp.
– The message content includes instructions to forward the message.
– The message claims you can avoid punishment, like account suspension, if you forward the message.
– The message content includes a reward or gift from WhatsApp or another person.

Tighten up your passwords

We advise you use a different password for every website. If you have only one password, and this is broken it can be used to gain access to all your accounts.

Make sure your password is secure, you can do this by:

– Making sure your password is at least 8 characters long. To create a strong password, simply choose three random words.
– Using a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
– Making sure each password you use is entirely unique and complex. Your password for Quidco should be unique for Quidco
– Consider using password management services such as LastPass, OneLogon, or KeePass. Programs or Web services like RoboForm (Windows only) or Lastpass (Windows and Mac) let you create a different very strong password for each of your sites. But you only have to remember the one password to access the program or secure site that stores your passwords for you.

Avoid using:

– Personal information such as a spouse/pet names, birthdays or anything directly relatable to you.
– Recognisable sequences such as ‘123456’ or ‘abcdefg’
– Common dictionary phrases such as ‘password’ etc.
– Recycling passwords eg: ‘password1’, ‘password2’ etc.

Obviously, don’t share your password with anyone.

Keep your computer protected

Make sure your computer is up to date and always run anti-virus and anti-malware protection. If you find any of your accounts compromised more than once, it is very likely that your computer is infected.

If you use a shared computer or device, always log out of any accounts when you’ve finished using it. Never save your details when given the option to.

Emails sent by Quidco

We will send you an email when changes are made to personal information on your account.

If you receive any of the following emails with these subject headings:

– Your password has been updated
– Payment details added
– Change of email address

And if you didn’t request the changes, change your password and contact us immediately so we can advise you. These are the only subject headings we will send in relation to changes to you account information. We’ll never ask you for your password or any payment details in full.

If you believe any of your accounts have been compromised, take the following steps:

– Change passwords to all accounts that have been compromised and other key accounts ASAP.
– Check your other personal information, such as payment method, to make sure it is still correct.
– If you believe your computer is infected, be sure your security software is up to date and scan your system for malware. You can also use other scanners and removal tools.

More information

You can find further information and advice on protecting yourself online from Get Safe Online, Cyber Streetwise and this handy prompt sheet.

To report fraud or online crime, contact Action Fraud.

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