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It seems like every other week another online scam or fraud ring is unveiled, the most recent being the attack on the popular telephone and broadband provider Talk Talk. After the story was covered by all the leading newspapers and television channels it’s understandable that people are worried, so with this in mind today’s blog covers how you can keep yourself protected from scams and fraud whilst using the internet.
Online Scams & Tricks
While 90% of the internet is safe and many online retailers and sellers are trustworthy, the few that aren’t can ruin your shopping experience. Follow the steps below to ensure you’re not snared.
- The first and most important point: if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. The easiest way to spot a fake deal is the price, so if an item or service is offered at an ‘incredibly low’ or truly unbelievable price it probably means that it doesn’t exist or that the seller isn’t to be trusted.
- Before making a purchase use the internet to search for reviews or comments regarding the retailer. This is the best way to see if others have had a good or bad experience when buying from them.
- If you’re wary of any online shop then speak to the company over the phone. This is one of the best ways of deeming whether you can trust them and that the deals they provide are real (aside from speaking to them in person).
- When making a payment avoid shops and sellers who insist on bank transfers and cheques. Paying by credit/debit card or PayPal are the top ways of protecting your payment, details and money as you’ll be able to open a case against the seller if the item/service isn’t delivered.
- Try to avoid buying from names you don’t know or recognise. High street shops and reputable companies can be trusted and are easy to chase up if you’re not satisfied with their service.
- When using a search engine to find a shop the links listed at the top aren’t always the best option. Scammers and fraudsters can pay for their listing to appear first, attracting buyers who aren’t aware of their schemes.
- When using shopping websites be aware of spelling and grammar errors – these are the best ways of deeming whether a shop is genuine when you first visit it.
- Every reputable shop should offer you the chance to leave a review. Read the reviews and comments of previous customers to get a genuine and unique view into the company.
Similar to scams, internet fraud can ruin your experience online. However, there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself.
- Don’t give your personal details to any website you don’t trust. Before making a purchase check the site for credibility and that your details will be kept safe with them (shopping sites should be able to guarantee your details will be encrypted).
- Received an e-mail you don’t think is genuine? Then it probably isn’t. Avoid clicking through on phishing e-mails as you’ll be sent to fake websites that’ll entice you into sharing your personal information.
- If you receive any bills or statements for payments you don’t recognise contact your bank immediately. They’ll be able to track where the payment came from and refund you cash that’s been taken without your permission.
- Where possible, ensure you use different passwords for every account you have online.
- Sign up for the Verified by Visa/Mastercard Secure Code services. When purchasing an item by card in a physical store you’re required to enter your personal pin code to verify it’s you who’s using it. However, when paying online most shops will store your personal information for your ease of use, requiring you to just click a few buttons to finalise your purchase. To make your shopping experience safer both Visa and Mastercard offer a service where you set up your own passcode for your cards when using them online, protecting you from fraud.
- Again, if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Finally, most internet security software provides a certain level of protection against fraud. Alongside keeping your computer safe from harm, security software prevents anyone but yourself having access to your personal information. Find out more about our top recommended software providers here.
Next time: how to make the most of social media.