Five tips to avoid online fraud this season

online fraud
By The CA Today

20 December 2015

With the festive season (and sales) almost upon us, here are five tips to help you avoid falling victim to online fraud.

At a time of year when online shopping thrives, customers' bank details can be vulnerable to tech savvy fraudsters, who are developing increasingly creative ways to access information. Payment services company allpay has come up with five crucial steps to bear in mind before parting with your hard earned cash online.

All too often, people are falling for scams online. Seemingly good Christmas deals on trips away, days out and “must have” gifts mean customers are rushing to purchase and not thinking carefully enough about the safety of their personal information.

1. Protect your computer

The first thing that you must do, before you even consider shopping online for a present, is to protect your computer against hackers, malware and viruses. This is easy to do and can be achieved by simply running a quick update and downloading any recommended software. Protection can come in the form of a firewall or antivirus and anti-spyware software. There are many options available to download free from the web, so cost is no excuse for avoiding basic defence.

2. Look for the padlock icon

When visiting a transactional website, if the padlock icon does not appear in the browser or beginning of the web address, do not share any personal information on the site. A lack of padlock indicates that you are not using a secure link and that the site could be vulnerable to fraud.

3. Use a prepaid card

Rather than using a credit card or debit card to make a purchase online, why not use a prepaid card? The prepaid card will not be connected to your bank and if the worst should happen you will only lose the amount equal to the limit of the card and no more. A prepaid card is PIN protected in the same way as other cards but won’t run up credit at your expense, and is not vulnerable to identify theft.

4. Password protect

Password protect your bank account, your mobile phone and any other channels that could be at risk from online fraud. It may seem common sense but it is amazing how many people fail to do this. Make sure that you use a different password for each account and that any records are kept somewhere secret, preferably offline.

5. Avoid risk

If the price of a Christmas break or designer handbag for your loved one appears too good to be true, it probably is. Do not allow yourself to be sucked in by appealing, cheap deals that could be the handy work of a fraudster.

Nick Peplow, bill payments director at allpay Ltd, said: “All too often, people are falling for scams online. Seemingly good Christmas deals on trips away, days out and “must have” gifts mean customers are rushing to purchase and not thinking carefully enough about the safety of their personal information."

*This article was first published on the allpay website.

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