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Shopping and email safety online

The busiest time for shopping has started and it is essential people understand the basics of shopping safely online and how to spot a scam email. 

With the average UK household spending £562 on Christmas in 2018, and 42% of that being spent online and that number increasing each year. The online market is more frequently being targeted by hackers and thieves. To help combat this there are a few things that can be done to minimise the risk. 

  1. Only shop on secure websites. A secure website will have a little lock on the left within its web address bar, and should start with https://. Having this is one of the easiest things to spot and helps to mitigate some risk. 
  2. Pay using a credit card or PayPal where possible online. They have more consumer protection and if anything does happen such as loss of payment information and fraudulent transactions, the consumer is more likely to get their money back. 
  3. Never select to store card information online. When your internet browser or the online store being utilised asks if you would like to store your card information decline. It may be a little more hassle inputting card details each time but in the long run it is the safer option. 
  4. Don’t make purchases over public Wi-Fi found in places such as cafes or hotels. These are not the safest of networks and many attacks have taken pace over these unsecure systems. 
  5. There are lots of ads for heavily discounted products that appear online in places such as Instagram, Facebook and Google. If the offer seems amazing and you have not heard of the website do a quick search to ensure it is legitimate. It is very common for fake websites to be created where payment is taken but the product is never delivered. 

Doing these things will not guarantee that payment information cannot be taken but it highly reduces the chances. 

How to spot and stop a scam or phishing email. 
  1. Check the sender name, it may show as someone different from who sent the email. It is possible to make an email say it has come from anyone, always check the actual email address, don’t just trust the name shown. 
  2. Never click on links within emails you are not 100% sure of. It is common to receive notifications from site such as Amazon, eBay, Argos etc this time of year with promotions but these are not always legitimate. Do not trust links especially when they are for account confirmation or password resets you did not request. 
  3. Hover over any links without clicking. When you hold the cursor over the link it shows the details of where that link will send you. If you do not recognise where it will send you DO NOT CLICK IT! 
  4. Do not open emails that start with Re: or Fwd: unless you know where the chain started. This is a trick used by hackers that works to bypass email security in some instances, and trick people into trusting that little bit more. 
  5. Read emails carefully. It is true, but becoming less common, that scam emails contain poor grammar and or spelling. 
  6. Never click on links sent in emails from your bank! 

Once again these will not guarantee you won’t get caught out but it does reduce the likelihood.

If you want to discuss any points above in more detail just pop by our stand 860 at the Northern Business Expo on 17th/18th March at Manchester Central. It's free to visit, and it's now the biggest business event in the North of England - get your free ticket online now!
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