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CWCS Christmas Blog Special Part 2: Keeping Yourself Safe Online

Web Hosting Blog

In our blogs, we write a lot about the importance of keeping your site safe and secure for your customers. Today, with the knowledge that many of our customers will be doing their own online shopping in the run up to Christmas, we want to flip the coin and talk about how you can ensure you’re keeping yourself safe as a customer of online retailers.

Due to global restrictions, online shopping is expected to explode this year, with an estimated £27.9bn expected to be taken across online retailers. This is an increase of £5.6bn from last year, and means that online shopping will account for 33% of all retail sales – the highest this has ever been by some margin.

Unfortunately, this increase will not come without risk. The British Retail Consortium has called on shoppers to start their Christmas shopping as early as possible to allow stores and logistics companies a chance to cope with the extra demand. And as for more sinister risks, sadly an influx in the need to shop online will also mean more opportunities for those trying to use platforms for unsavoury means. We want to make sure you stay as safe as possible when shopping online, so read on to find out about the simple steps you can take to protect yourself.

Know who you are buying from

There are thousands of online retailers to choose from. Whilst this is incredible in terms of the choice you have when shopping, unfortunately not all of those retailers will be legitimate. Make sure you are buying from a trusted seller. If you don’t know the company, do an internet search for them to see if there is any negative feedback. Check reviews to see if other customers have been happy with their service, and for UK companies, check the Companies House register to make sure they are registered. Well known retailers are certainly the safest option, but there is a certain importance at the moment to support smaller businesses if you can. So go for it, but before you do, just make sure they are who they say they are.

Check the T&Cs

Even if a company itself is legitimate, it doesn’t rule out the fact they may be stocking poor quality or even counterfeit goods. Again, you can use reviews to check people’s previous experiences but also check that company’s returns policy. If it’s not there or if it is restrictive, this is a cause for concern. Checking that the company has a robust and fair returns policy will protect you as even if you do receive a sub-par item, you know you will be able to return it easily.

Check the price

If you are purchasing something that would be available elsewhere, double check that the price does not arouse suspicion. If it is wildly more expensive than you could get elsewhere this isn’t a good sign. Similarly, you should be cautious if the item is significantly cheaper. Obviously a legitimate bargain is good news, but if you are looking at something for say, a tenth of the price that it is elsewhere, you should consider it’s legitimacy and quality before purchasing. Remember the golden rule of online shopping – If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Check the website is secure

We really cannot stress this enough. Only enter your card details in to a secure website. Never be tempted to enter them on a site that does not display an SSL certificate, however much you want to buy from them. It just is not worth the risk of your card details being intercepted. Luckily modern browsers make it very easy to check that a site is secure. Firstly, there will be a padlock symbol in the address bar, indicating to you that the site is protected by an SSL certificate. Secondly, the web address should begin https:// and not http://. Depending on the level of protection you may also notice that the address bar for the site has turned green, this also indicates the site is protected. And finally, if you want to double check the details of the site’s SSL certificate, click on the padlock symbol and the details will show up there. The company details on the certificate should always match up to the company you are buying from.

Your own security

Make sure that the device you are using is up to date with security updates and anti-virus software. These will help you to stay protected in the unfortunate event you do still stumble across an insecure website and will help to protect your information and device from fraudsters.

Choose your Wi-Fi wisely

Always use your own secure Wi-Fi at home to make your online purchases if possible. Never use public Wi-Fi to send card or bank details online, it’s usually not as secure and there’s no way of you knowing for certain, even if you’ve had to enter a password to access it. If you do need to make a purchase whilst you’re out of the house, the safest thing to do is to use your mobile data to do so.

If the worst happens

It’s unlikely, but you might follow all of the above steps, and still find that you have been a victim of online fraud. The first port of call if this happens is to contact the provider for the card you used and report it to them. They may be able to reclaim payments that have been taken fraudulently, and will be able to stop your card being used for any future illegitimate payments. You can also report the crime to Action Fraud, which is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime. They have an online reporting tool to make it easier to give them the information.

We hope that this guide has given you some helpful tips on keeping yourself safe online. If you have any more that you would like to share with our community, why not get in touch with us by tweeting @cwcs_hosting.