5 Tips to stay safe online (and not just at Xmas)

5 Tips to stay safe online – especially around Christmas when we all shop online that bit more!

Tip 1: Use common sense

We all love a bargain, some of us a little bit too much. Criminals know this and use our love for a deal to scam our hard earned cash from us.

The general rule of thumb online – as in life – is that if something seems too good to be true, the chances are that’s probably the case.

You might see sensational deals for cheap products advertised on Facebook or by email. Friends or Family may have shared these offers with you. Just be sure to check out the website and satisfy yourself that it is a genuine company and not one which will just take your money and run!

Check the About us page, are they a registered company, are there any reviews on sites like Trust Pilot.

Tip 2 – Never click on links in Emails or Messages

If the email is from a reputable site, simply navigate directly to the site yourself in a web browser NOT from any links in the email and the deal should be available.

Criminals sometimes set up sites that look exactly the same as the one you’re expecting (at least for a page or two anyway) and it can be an easy mistake to log in, then get a nasty surprise when you don’t receive the goods or your bank account is emptied.

Tip 3 – Check the website URL

When shopping online check the web address (URL) in your internet bar. It should always begin with ‘https://’ and not just “http://’ like the screen below

This shows the website is secure; so all the data transmitted between you and the server is encrypted.

So any cyber-criminals that hacked the website wouldn’t be able to read your information.

You will also see a small closed padlock symbol at the start of the web address.

You can click on the padlock to see further information – including the certificate if you click on that also.

Tip 4 – Use a Credit Card wherever possible

Credit cards offer far more protection against online purchases, and some even offer extended online protection plans to protect your money when buying online. Speak to your credit card provider if unsure.

If you don’t have a credit card, perhaps it is worth obtaining one of these pre-paid debit cards you can load with the money required to use online – that way if the details are taken, its not directly linked to your actual bank account and won’t cause you the nightmare of all your money being taken, just that you had on the card. Still awful, but the lesser of two evils.

Tip 5 – Use different and SECURE passwords

Firstly – make sure your passwords are secure, use a capital letter, a number and a symbol in there and you will normally be OK. Hackers are looking for easy to break passwords, they prey on the weak. Making yours this achieve this level of security will deter most hackers.

Secondly make sure you use different passwords for different online accounts because if the worst happens and your account is hacked, criminals will quickly try many other online accounts and taking these steps could ensure you minimise the problem if the worst happens to you.

Its sad that we have to write these – but its the world we live in.

Just be aware and stay safe online people – please feel free to share or tag anyone in who would benefit from these tips

Thanks for reading

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