Think like a gangster to stay safe online

As European online retail has been predicted to reach £149 billion by 2017, thousands of customers still fall victim to online fraud every day. The Internet is riddled with dangers and sophisticated scams – it’s no wonder that only about 20% of people feel very secure shopping online.*  Sometimes, in order to avoid becoming a victim of online fraud, you have to think like a gangster.

We have compiled this simple guide to help you stay safe when shopping online.

1. Always use secure sites to make online payments

When purchasing goods online, always ensure you’re using a secure website.  You can confirm whether a website is secure by checking that it has the following two features:

  • The website URL begins with ‘https://’, not ‘http://’.
  • The website displays the image of a closed padlock, either in the browser or in the bottom right corner of your browser windows

2. Avoid coupon scams

According to a PayPal survey, 30 million Britons have used discount vouchers in the last six months. A common online scam involves websites that snag their victims with coupons for popular items like a new iPad or other gadgets. You will also be required to provide all your personal information and credit card details, which can be used to make fraudulent transactions.  These scams usually feature poorly constructed websites, with grammatical errors and multiple pop-up windows.

3. Confirm that the organisation is legitimate

You should only buy from websites you know and trust.  When in doubt, check their physical street address and landline phone number, but this may not always be easy to verify.

4. Protect your privacy

Only buy online if you are comfortable with the company’s privacy policy. Do not give out your personal information unless it is required to process a transaction. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

 5. Be aware of malicious links

Online scammers will target you with phishing emails that ask you to click on a link or open an attachment. They might offer what seems like an amazing deal, or even include a tracking link for a package you didn’t order.

Don’t click on any email links or open any attachments that seem suspicious. I recommend deleting these messages right away.

 6. Keep your antivirus software up to date

Ensure you have effective and updated antivirus/antispyware and firewall software running before you go online.

 7. Disclose only necessary information

Most e-commerce sites will only need your basic information to complete a transaction. No online shopping store needs your passport details or your birthday to do business. If this information, combined with your credit card number, falls into the hands of criminals, they can do a lot of damage. The more they know, the easier it is to steal your identity. When possible, default to giving up the least amount of information.

8. Don’t fall for gift card scams

Everybody loves gift cards, but online scammers often use them to steal your personal information.  You might receive an email saying you have won a £100 gift card.  If the email asks for banking or credit card information, delete it right away. A legitimate company will never ask for that information in an email.

 9. Use strong passwords

Using strong and unique passwords is extremely important when banking and shopping online. If a retailer happens to be breached (and this seems to be happening a lot lately), you risk exposing your login credentials to other sites, enabling criminals to use your password for other fraudulent transactions.  Update your passwords frequently.

 10. Avoid using public Wi-Fi connections

Don’t use a public computer to make purchases.  When you must enter the number and expiration date on a website while sitting in a public cafe, you’re giving an over-the-shoulder snooper plenty of time to see the goods (or the computer could be infected with malware intended to snatch the information). At the very least, think like a gangster: sit in the back, facing the door.

* Survey from the NCC Group.

ISO 27001 presents an all-encompassing solution to achieving cyber security.  Find out now how your organisation can benefit from implementing a robust information security management system to keep your data secure.