Saturday, December 4, 2010

Don't Give Fraudsters A Christmas Card

Dec 3, 2010 Kim Gillman

Don't Give Fraudsters a Christmas Card - Dagmar dsurreal

Don't Give Fraudsters a Christmas Card - Dagmar dsurreal

More people will do part of their Christmas shopping on-line this year, than ever before. We are expected to spend a massive £4.6billion over the internet in the run up to the festive season.

More than half the UK population shops in cyberspace, instead of struggling out in the cold; you make your purchases at a time that suits you from the comfort and warmth of your house. You don’t have to fight your way through crowds of other shoppers, or struggle home loaded with heavy bags.

Search engines such as Google make it quick and easy to find the gifts you want, to compare prices and track down better deals than you would on the high street. But the internet does have a down side. When you are not buying face to face, it can be easier to be ripped off. A product may seem well priced and a web site may look above board, but you can’t always be sure of getting what you ordered, or that whoever is behind it won’t do some shopping of their own with your card details.

According to the UK Cards Association, fraud losses from ‘card not present’ transactions, which include internet purchases, totalled over £18million in the first six months of this year. Ensure you don’t add to the total for the second half of the year, only use reputable sites and do everything you can to protect yourself. The internet is a safe place to shop provided you are wary with how you use your personal information. To help your self to a happy on-line Christmas take the following steps:

  • Before you go on-line, make sure the PC you are using has a firewall and up-to-date anti-virus software.
  • Where possible, use sites you are familiar with or that have been recommended by someone you trust.
  • Be particularly wary about sites that are based overseas, if anything goes wrong, it will be a lot harder to get your money back.
  • If you are uncertain about a site, search it for the company’s contact details, reputable ones will give a proper address, not just a PO Box number. If there’s only an email address and mobile phone number, don’t use it.
  • Never access a site from a link in an unsolicited email. Always type the address into your web browser, and check you are happy with it before entering any personal details.
  • If an offer looks to good to be true, or a site doesn’t look quite right, for instance, it seems to be trying to masquerade as a famous brand, avoid it.
  • Before you place an order, particularly if you are using the site for the first time, check the web address starts with ‘https’ as the‘s’ means its secure.
  • Also look for a locked padlock symbol in the browser frame, as this also confirms any information you type in will be transmitted securely.
  • Read the terms and conditions, delivery information and returns policy, and make a note of the postal address and phone number in case of problems with your order.
  • When you are finished shopping, always log out and save the confirmation email as proof of what you have brought and paid for.
  • If you are spending more than £100, use a credit card rather than a debit card. The Consumer Credit Act states that if something goes wrong, such as the retailer goes bust, you can claim amounts over £100 back from the credit card company.
  • To password protect your payment details; register your credit cards with Verified by Visa or MasterCard Secure Code when the prompt screen comes up. This will prevent anyone else using them.
  • Always check card statements for unfamiliar transactions. If you spot anything you didn’t buy, get in touch with the card provider right away to dispute it.
  • To find out more about staying safe in cyberspace log on to:
Copyright Kim Gillman. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.

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