Avoid Cyber Crimes & Scams During Festive Seasons

Posted by at 17 December, at 12 : 36 PM Print

Essential Pointers to Avoid Cyber Crimes During Festive Christmas and New Year Seasons

Festive Season, something which every individual awaits all year long. Fortunately in todays digital era, you are no longer required to travel distances to buy stuffs. Online eCommerce stores have brought much comfort and convenience to everyone, but we often forget to realise the threats involved. If everyone takes precautions while purchasing things over the web, a large share of scams can be avoided. In this article we’ve tried to cover most of the precautionary measures that one can adopt for a safe buying online.

The increased percentile of online shoppers tickle the brains of fraudsters operational online, who are in a stance to take advantage of your credit card and personal confidential information to perform their unethical activities.

Cyber criminals are usually on a hunt during the festive season for an innocent bait and exploit Internet users using various mediums, may it be via. emails, images, phishing and shopping scams. And to add more to this list today is the social networks and shopping carts that almost perfectly mimic the already popular brands and tempt shoppers to click on it. It has also been reported in the past that a number of hackers embed malicious content within Facebook and Twitter links.

That ofcourse doesn’t mean that you must quit making a purchase online.

Well, its not so difficult to keep such fraudsters away from taking advantage of situations. Here are some pointers that can help you safeguard yourself while making a purchase online.

Firewall, Anti-Virus, Anti-Malware and Anti-Spyware

Having a reliable and trusted firewall and antivirus software installed onto your machines is the most basic precaution that you can take. This should help you keeping malware off, hence avoiding the risk of exploitation. If you are low on budget, you may even opt for a free but reliable alternative such as Microsoft Security Essentials, Avast etc. Check for the Top 5 Free Antivirus for 2011.

It is suggestible to use a two-way firewall that is capable of blocking hackers from gaining access to your machine and carry out illegal stuff at their convenience.

Access Passwords

We’ve been always suggesting our clients to use strong passwords, something that has a combination of alpha-numeric, special characters with a combination of upper and lower cases for every account that you have online. Hackers use special tools and softwares to judge the passwords, hence inorder to make it tougher for them, using long passwords with the above stated combinations prove to be highly useful. Moreover, it is observed that users tend to use the same passwords for multiple accounts, now this is highly risky, if at all a hacker gains access to one of the systems they can easily exploit rest of the systems as well. So, a big NO to using the same password for every system.

Wi-Fi Zones

Wi-Fi zones are popular in populated areas, hence if you intend to buy stuff online using such a network, you need to ensure that the service is legitimate and safe to transmit your credit card and other details.

Well, if you aren’t aware about its legitimacy, better not buy. Later get connected to an authentic and a known service and proceed with the purchase.

Checking Legitimacy of an eCommerce Shopping Site

Its commonly seen now-a-days where a promotional email from a company where you had never left your email address reaches your inbox. Its a general practice used by fraudsters to send out such emails to users which includes tempting adds and attractive deals with a link, this is phishing where you are asked to confirm certain details from a seller. The website may seem a lot similar to the actual site, but in reality its like a fish bait with the strings in the hands of the scammers. Such sites may ask you to populate forms with your financial details and other personal stuffs. Hence it is very important not to click on any such links. Instead, you may visit the official company page and check for any such deals, this should help you confirm if the mail that you’ve received is legitimate or a way to trick you. Pop-ups are another ways that fraudsters use as we often tend to click on those easily, so
it.

SSL Certificate Secured Websites

ssl-pad-lock-iconOne must ensure that a site that asks for your personal and financial information are secured by an SSL Certificate. To know if a site is secure uses an SSL, you must check the URL first, it should start with https:// while a non-secured site would start with http:// followed by the domain name. Next you can look for a padlock, similar to as shown in the image. An SSL certificate is used for encrypting data before transmitting it across the World Wide Web, hence adding a layer to avoiding theft.

A number of website’s would have secure site seal displayed on their website, yet it is advised to check for the above details to ensure your safety.

Legitimacy of Offers and Discounts

During the festive and new year seasons sites are loaded with attractive offers and catchy discounts, beware, everything that glitters isn’t Gold. Some websites may ask you to share links within your network of friends and others, asking for personal details by means of a surveys and stuffs similar. You must ensure that it isn’t another way used by a fraudster to collect your confidential information, instead of indulging into shopping from such sites why not buy from legitimate retailers.

Creating a Pseudo Account

Most websites would ask for an email account for correspondence, the same would be your user id. for logging in. You create a pseudo email account and use it for such purposes, this should not only safeguard your information but act as a precautionary measure to avoid thefts.

Using a Credit Card

Banks now-a-days offer temporary credit cards that have limited funds and an expiry date, this can be used while shopping online. Such cards have no relation with your actual bank account but are a sort of pre-paid system with certain funds allocated within.

Despite taking all the precautions stated above, if you do fall prey to frauds, you may report it to :

  • National Fraud Intelligence Bureau run by the City of London Police for collation and analysis for email scams : http://www.actionfraud.org.uk/
  • For scams in general - Consumer Direct

          Email to scams@oft.gsi.gov.uk
Tel: 08454 04 05 06

  • Metropolitan Police, London
  • Office of Fair Trading, London : euroteam@oft.gsi.gov.uk
  • Report to the UK Information Commissioner for spam originating in the UK.

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