The busy festive season is almost upon us, and those less comfortable with leaving their Christmas shopping to the very last minute may already be ticking gifts off their lists.
But when it comes to buying online, it’s not just deals you should be looking out for. Certain sites and sellers out there are not as legitimate as they may seem and entering your payment details could have major negative consequences.
On top of this, for lawyers and solicitors with potentially huge volumes of client information on their computers and devices, falling victim to online shopping schemes could leave your most sensitive data vulnerable to breach.
In this article, I'd like to share a few tips on staying online safe while shopping online.
Make sure the website is secure
Of course, if you’re going to enter your vital card details into a website, you want to make sure that it is secure first of all.
Fortunately, there are a number of tell-tale signs you can look out for to know whether a website is safe to use.
Take a look at the URL address bar at the top of your page. All genuine e-commerce websites should have a small padlock symbol followed by a web address starting with https:// (with the ‘S’ standing for ‘Secure).
In some browsers, the address bar will also turn green to let you know the connection is secure.
If you’re still unsure, clicking the padlock symbol (or the space to the left of the web address) should bring up the information on the website’s certificate. This will tell you who has registered the site. If you receive a warning about the site’s certificate, avoid purchasing anything from them.
Ensure the seller is the real deal
While there are a huge number of well-known e-commerce brands out there, you may sometimes be able to find cheaper deals from smaller independent sellers. Many of these will be perfectly legitimate, however you need to be able to spot an authentic site from a fraudulent one in order to stay safe online.
This can often be revealed through a little research in just a few minutes. Search the seller’s name online to check if they have any negative feedback. Websites like TrustPilot offer reviews from real customers for a wide range of online businesses.
Don’t forget, if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Irrationally low prices may indicate that the site is selling illegal or pirated items, so it is always best to steer clear.
Before you buy online, you should also find out other important information such as delivery times and the seller’s returns policy. If there is no system in place for returning broken items or refunds for undelivered packages, you should be suspicious.
Be safe online
Don’t forget your online safety basics when it comes to your Christmas shopping.
Make sure you have up-to-date software and anti-virus protection before clicking on any website links. This helps to safeguard your device against scammers and cybercriminals.
If you’re required to create an account at the checkout, always use a unique password using a combination of uppercase letters and numbers.
Even if the website you’re using is secure, you should always check that your internet connection is too. Public wi-fi in cafes and shopping centres may be convenient, but there could be any number of hackers on the network just waiting for you to enter your payment information.
If you can’t wait to get home to make an online purchase, remember your ordinary mobile data is much more secure than public wi-fi.
Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act gives you additional protection on credit card purchases of between £100 and £30,000. That means that your card provider is equally liable with the seller should the item be faulty, unsatisfactory, or undelivered.
You may also be covered purchases of under £100 on your debit or credit card under chargeback. This allows you to claim a refund from your card provider if the item is faulty or never arrives.
If you’re planning on using contactless payments while physically shopping, make sure you never hand over your card for contactless payments, that you keep your card in a foil-lined wallet, and regularly check your bank statements for suspicious transactions.
Talk to Sprout IT
For more online safety tips for you and your law firm, talk to our IT experts today on 020 7036 8530 or email us.