Safety First: a Few Simple Steps to Avoid Being A Victim of Online Fraud

You don’t need me to tell you that online shopping’s big business these days. In 2015 a staggering £114 billion was spent online in the UK and the figure for 2016 is reckoned to be even higher. The vast majority of us use it regularly to pay for everything from paperback books to our big weekly shop and find it the quickest, easiest and often also the cheapest way to buy many things.

But, again, you don’t need me to tell you that each time we do pay for anything online we may be putting ourselves at risk of becoming a target for the countless fraudsters lurking in the shadows of the internet. With cyber attacks becoming big news and major data breaches being suffered by everyone from banks to phone companies, it’s a threat that no-one can afford to ignore – and taking steps to protect yourself are a real no-brainer.

Obviously, the first thing is to make sure that you’re only dealing with websites that you can be sure are totally legitimate – and this can be tricky. After all, creating a site that looks trustworthy is easy but bogus ones generally do have a few tell-tale signs. For example if, in the contact details, you can’t see an address and a landline number, be very cautious indeed.

All businesses that sell online should also have secure sites with high levels of encryption. This is an algorithm that scrambles information transferred between you and the site you’re visiting, so even if it is intercepted by a fraudster they won’t be able to understand it. You can be sure that this protection’s in place when you see that their URL begins with HTTPS (the S stands for “secure”) and there is a little padlock logo to the far left of the address bar.

Phone security” (CC BY 2.0) by Ervins Strauhmanis

The way you pay online is also important and the more anonymous you can be the better. One very good way to do this is to use something like the paysafecard. This is a card that you can buy in various different values and then use to pay anywhere that accepts it simply by entering the card’s 16 digit PIN. It’s so secure and easy that it’s especially popular with businesses whose customers may want privacy and reliability such as online casinos, which naturally take extra precautions and offer multiple payment options to make sure their customers feel – and are – safe at all times. For instance, in addition to the paysafecard option, mobile wins casino offers Kash, Skrill and Discover deposit options.

e-commerce_credit-cards” (CC BY 2.0) by StormKatt

As well as being confident about a site’s level of security, the other important consideration is your computer itself. You should always make sure that it’s running the very latest version of its web browser and also has up-to-date virus protection and firewall software to avoid being hacked and potentially disclosing a great deal of personal information. Similarly, if you’re connecting to the internet via a wireless network this should also be password protected to avoid illicit use. Some people even go as far as using a Virtual Private Network which you can connect to via your own network but which then conceals your IP address by using the VPN’s.Above all, making payments that are safe is a question of using a little common sense and not taking any unnecessary risks. If we all managed this it would do a great deal to stop the fraudsters dead in their tracks.

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