If you're thinking of bagging yourself some online bargains in the 'Cyber Monday' shopping frenzy make sure you protect yourself from the cyber criminals who can't wait to get their hands on your cash.
Britons may not celebrate Thanksgiving but we have adopted the 'Black Friday' shopping bonanza where shops slash their prices to attract customers before Christmas. Black Friday is swiftly followed by Cyber Monday where those who didn't want to brave the crowds on the high street can snap up bargains online.
However, just as crowded shopping centres are a magnet for pickpockets, the hoards of people shopping online are rich pickings for cyber criminals.
Figures from comparison site GoCompare.com estimates £722,001 worth of fraudulent transactions could take place today - a sum that could buy 1,808 tablets, 17,190 bottles of perfume or 65,636 Christmas socks.
Detective chief inspector Jason Tunn of Falcon – the Metropolitan Police Service's new cyber crime and fraud team, said: "As Christmas approaches, cyber criminals will try to make quick cash by defrauding shoppers online, but if you are buying your presents online this year, there are many steps you can take to help protect yourself."
The first step to making sure you don't end up out of pocket and without any Christmas presents this year is to ensure your computer is protected with anti-virus software or a full security suite of products, said Tunn.
"Ensure that software for your operating system and applications are regularly updated as these will feature more built-in protection than previous versions."
Secondly; it make be tempting to click through to a fantastic deal for the latest gadget that pops into your inbox but it could be a scam.
"Don't click on the weblinks in unsolicited emails, they may direct you to a bogus website. Instead look up the website online yourself," said Tunn.
The Met's third tip for staying sage online is to make sure your computer's phishing protections are on. Phishing is the term used when scammers try to get you to part with private information such as bank details and credit card numbers by sending you emails that look like they are from a bank or website where financial details are required.
"Let your system browser help you stay safe by enabling your browser's phishing and malware protection filters," said Tunn.
If you are buying online the fourth tip offered by the Met is to use a credit card instead of a debit card for purchases.
"Use a credit card instead of a debit card – credit cards may offer increased protection. Consumer alternative payment methods such as PayPal, gift cards or pre-paid credit cards," he said.
Finally, before you click 'buy' check the website you are using is legitimate, there are some easy ways to tell and it could save you the hassle and cost of being scammed.
"Always check that the website URL features 'https' at the start, and look for the padlock icon which indicates a secure network," said Tunn. "Banking data sent over unsecured websites may be vulnerable to online thieves."
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