Tech Tips: 10 ways on how to stay safe online this Christmas

It’s the season to be jolly, falalalalafalalalaaah. As well as jolly, it’s also manic, right? Oh yes, Christmas is the cybercriminal's dream...

Manic in the way that we leave Christmas shopping until the last minute, and we don’t budget enough wonga for all those presents because we’ve spent too much in the pubs drinking mulled wine. Who even likes that anyway?

So, during the festive season, we can actually feel more stressed and rushed than any other month. If most of us are honest, there’re only a select few who are really with it during December. The rest of us are running around like lost lambs in the midst of the biggest consumerism spike of the year…

True? If you’ve muttered yes, then you can see why now is the time that cybercriminals will be working overtime in the run up to Christmas, to take full advantage of our panic buy tendencies.

With this in mind, it’s highly likely that Christmas online shoppers will have every scam in the book thrown at them.

To avoid a scam, you need to know how you may be targeted so you can identify scam characteristics. Here are ten ways you could be targeted this Christmas…

 1.) Don’t be fooled by a ‘too good to be true’ deal

A lot of us have been there. You get an email from your favourite retailer with that absurdly low price for the electrical item your partner wants. Don’t be tricked into buying the item from the email. Check the retailer’s legitimate website for the deal, and if it’s not there, call or visit the store.

2.) Who is the retailer?

If you’re buying online, one of the best ways to stay safe is to simply buy from trusted and recognised retailers. This way, you’re guaranteed to actually receive your item.

3.) Resist opening anonymous ecards

Many Christmas e-cards are legitimate, but as always, there is a handful that isn’t. If you receive an e-card from a random sender, don’t open it – just bin it. Fraudulent e-cards usually contain malware, that will embed itself on your electronic device. Always ensure that you know the sender, but even so, look out for phishing warning signs.

4.) Christmas holidaying

This is another avenue where you need to be vigilant. Many of us love a mini break – especially at Christmas. Naturally, we’ll look out for the best deal, but again, don’t be fooled by the price. Ensure you’re buying from trusted sites, and legitimate hotels, otherwise this one could cost you a fair amount.

5.) Auction sites

Auction sites, such as eBay, are very popular sites for grabbing bargains at Christmas. Again, while the majority are genuine, some listed items, such as electricals or designer clothing, will be a deliberate attempt from cyber criminals to get their hands on your hard-earned cash. You’ll pay for an item that doesn’t exist.

On the flip side, if you’re selling an item such as a phone, ensure that the money from the buyer is in your account BEFORE sending the item for delivery. There are numerous cases where fraudsters will ‘buy’ the item but will never cough up the cash, leaving you out of pocket at an expensive time of the year.

6.) Loan applications

We all feel the pinch at Christmas, and with this comes an increase in online loan applications. If you need to apply for a loan, make sure you are buying your loan from legitimate loan companies. Also, note that not a single legitimate loan company will ask you for an advance fee. If you’re asked for this, it is 100% a scam.

7.) Fraudulent Tickets

Many of us love to buy our loved ones an experience. ­Double check the event by doing your research to see if anyone has fallen victim to a scam related to the event.

8.) Charity

Yes – there are scammers out there sick enough to pose as a charity. Christmas is a time of giving, and charities will collect more during the festive season. So, if you’re going to donate, find the legitimate charity supporting the cause you care about.

9.) Mobile scams

More and more people use their mobiles to complete transactions online. Data is usually stored in the phone’s memory and can be stolen if your device is compromised. A good way to combat this is to simply not store any details on your phone. Another way would be to add your phone to your Symantec Endpoint Protection Cloud seat – for free – to ensure your devices are protected against malware.

10.) Social media scams

Most of the time, adverts on social media are genuine. In the run up to Christmas, be vigilant when entering competitions and giveaways, as well as purchasing deals via ads. Do the necessary checks to see if it is legitimate and if you’re not 100% sure, question whether it is really worth it. Cyber criminals will most likely be on the search for personal details, which can be used to steal identities and commit fraudulent actions. Don’t have too much personal information on social media and don’t install any suspicious add-ons to your internet browser. Cyber criminals can use these add-ons to extract data, such as bank details, from your history.

And there we have it – 10 ways you can avoid scams. Always be vigilant, always check who you are buying from and always do your research.

Don’t fall victim to an attack that can be avoided.

Wise up toonline scams

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