14 December 2023
Holiday shopping safety: A guide to staying safe when shopping sales
The holiday season is a great time to grab some bargains and tick off your Christmas list. With sales season enticing savvy shoppers, it’s easier than ever to fall victim to common payment scams. However, protecting yourself is straightforward, and with just a bit of awareness and a few proactive steps, you can make sales season as secure as it is fun. This guide covers everything from safe inbox practices to choosing the most secure payment methods for your shopping spree.
Inbox safety – your first line of defence.
When it comes to marketing emails, some deals are hard to resist but if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Protect yourself by taking these simple steps:
· Verify the source: Inspect the sender’s email address to ensure it matches the domain name of your chosen retailer.
· Look for red flags: Keep an eye out for grammatical inaccuracies, spelling mistakes and strange variations in fonts and sizing.
· Double-check deals: Before clicking on an offer, visit the retailer’s website directly or get in touch with their customer support team to confirm its validity.
· Use link previews: Preview links in the email to ensure they direct you to a trusted website.
Remember, when in doubt, it’s safer to send emails straight to the bin and report it as spam.
Spotting a secure retailer.
Shopping online can save you time and money, but without the right precautions, you could end up with more grief than you bargained for. From fraudulent transactions to identity theft, sharing sensitive information online – like card details or personal data – could leave you vulnerable to scammers. The solution? Shop with a secure retailer. Spotting them is easy:
· Look for the ‘https’: Whether you’re shopping a site or finalising your transaction through a Payment Link, ensure the link starts with ‘https’ and features a padlock icon in the URL bar for a safe connection. Secure checkouts also display these two features.
· Check return policies: Especially for those big-ticket purchases, don’t just hit ‘buy’ when you see a bargain. Take a minute to check out the shop’s return policies and warranty details. It pays to know the fine print.
· Bolster with built-in payment security: When you’re finally ready to checkout, use a card or digital wallet that provides fraud protection as standard. Major card providers, like Visa, Mastercard or cards across the Discover Global Network, and wallets like Alipay are fortified with identity verification or 2-factor authentication technologies.
Stay secure with updates and strong passwords.
As our digital world expands, and the number of devices we use in our day-to-day lives increases with it, it’s easy to ignore the constant alerts that urge you to update your software. However, in order to stay protected, you need to stay one step ahead. Level up your online security game with these simple steps:
· Keep your software up to date: Many major retailers – particularly those with a dedicated shopping app – and tech companies push security updates periodically and it’s important to keep your apps and devices updated to ensure protection against the latest threats.
· Don’t repeat your logins: Passwords are like keys to your online kingdom. Make them strong and unique. If it’s getting tricky to keep track, a password manager can be your new best friend. For extra credit, use features like biometric scanning (see: FaceID and fingerprint scanning) and two-factor authentication to strengthen your online defence.
· Strengthen your online defences: When shopping on the go and using public Wi-Fi, switch on a VPN to keep your information secure.
Some last tried and trusted tips.
Finally, don’t forget to keep tabs on your spending:
· Regularly review your bank statements: While it might not be exciting, checking your statements is a surefire way to identify and report any transactions you don't recognise before it's too late.
· Set up security alerts: Many financial service providers now offer self-service security alerts to notifying you of any irregularities in your spending patterns. You can set this up on most online banking apps or give your bank a call to activate this feature.
Shopping for the holidays should be all about the fun, not fretting over security slip-ups. With these simple, savvy steps, you can kick back and enjoy the holiday hustle, knowing you’re covered. And remember, Till’s got your back, making sure every swipe, tap, or click in your payment journey is secure, simple, and foolproof.
So, here’s to a happy holiday and happy (bargain) hunting!