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Don't let online crooks crock Christmas


Christmas shoppers placing orders over the internet need to exercise more caution than ever this year, warn experts at Glasgow-based network security specialists Netintelligence.

And with a huge surge in online ordering expected on Monday, December 4 – dubbed ‘Cyber Monday’ – in the run up to the festive period, Netintelligence say consumers shouldn’t choose convenience over the security of their bank details.

Phil Worms, director of marketing and products at Netintelligence, says: “Online ordering has never been more popular, with UK consumers expected to spend a record £65M online during December, and it’s a great way to beat the crowds at the big shopping centres at Christmas.

“Unfortunately the internet also represents a very lucrative opportunity for cyber criminals: people with access to very sophisticated technology which allows them to steal bank card details, and who then help themselves to the contents of your bank account.

“It’s vital that people aren’t careless with their personal information. Having your details stolen is the last thing you need at any time of year, but for it to happen over Christmas would be a real sickener.”

The good news is there are steps which consumers can take to stop their details from falling into the wrong hands. Phil’s 10 golden rules for having an enjoyable online shopping experience this Christmas are:

1. Never respond to any email which asks for personal information. This especially includes usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, bank account details etc. Even if you recognise the organisation sending you the email, do not respond. Always enter a web address that you know to be legitimate directly into a new browser window.

2. Always ensure that you're using a secure website. When submitting credit card or other sensitive information online, make sure that the web address begins "https://" rather than just “http://”.

3. Check online accounts and bank/credit card statements regularly. If anything is suspicious, contact your bank and all card issuers immediately

4. Always print out your order confirmation. Do not just keep the confirmation email. Make sure you have the retailer’s phone number and address so you can get back to them if something goes wrong.

5. Try to use the same credit card for all online transactions. You may be able to get a refund if it all goes wrong, and it’s easier to keep a check if all online transactions appear on one statement.

6. Deal with reputable companies which you already know from the high street or their mail order catalogues etc. Review each site's return policy to ensure your gifts can be returned or exchanged if necessary.

7. Read privacy statements. A reputable company will publish a privacy statement on their web site. This informs you about the way that company will use your personal information. Beware of any site that does not provide a link to its privacy statement from its home page - these are probably the web sites with something to hide.

8. Don’t be sucked in by enticing deals. If an online price seems too good to be true it probably is. Before purchasing check a range of retail web sites to determine the average retail price before buying.

9. Stay protected. Make sure your computer is fully protected and constantly updated with the latest anti-virus, anti-spam and anti-spyware protection.

10. Order as early as possible to allow for late/lost/damaged deliveries or out of stock items. Give yourself plenty of breathing space to either arrange replacements with the online company or fight your way through the queues at your local shopping centre.

By following these rules, says Phil, online shoppers can enjoy the convenience of shopping from home without worrying about crooks stealing their bank details.

He adds: “Online theft is a very real problem, but it’s one that can be avoided. Unfortunately it’s inevitable that some people will fall prey to web criminals, which is why it’s so important that everyone is careful to take the necessary precautions before entering their details online.

”By making sure you bear these steps in mind, you can enjoy internet shopping without fear of someone else enjoying your hard-earned money.”

Issued by the BIG partnership on behalf of Netintelligence.

For more information, contact Marjorie Calder or Bryan Garvie on 0141 333 9585 or /

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