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Protect yourself online this festive season

Protect yourself online this festive season

As the gift giving season reaches fever-pitch, it’s easier than ever to head online to fulfil the Christmas gift wishes of your family and friends. And, of course, the sport of shopping online at the Boxing Day sales can give the Boxing Day Test a run for its money.

Scamwatch has reported over $4million in losses to online shopping scams this year so it’s important to always balance the convenience and value of online shopping, with a high level of online security awareness when shopping and transacting online.

However, with the high volume of Christmas and New Year online transactions, sophisticated scam artists and fraudsters are known to prey on more people than ever at this time of year.

So, with that in mind – take a look at our tips for staying savvy when shopping online.

Never give out your password

This one is particularly important. As scams become more sophisticated, fraudsters become bolder and may try and trick you into giving out your internet banking passwords or SMS security codes; for instance, promising to set up special investment accounts for you, or claiming to be a bank needing your password to identify you. P&N Bank will NEVER request your password to verify your identity, and you should never give out your password to anyone.

Be careful what information you give out online

Creating online store accounts can be a very effective, legitimate way for online businesses to capture your email address and preferences, to send you discounts and offers in the future. However, be extra cautious about the information you give out – use unique, strong passwords for these accounts, different from your online banking or any other online service that stores your personal information.

Only buy from reputable websites

Your best bet for protection is to shop from well-known, trusted brands. Fake online stores promising abnormally low prices are common, so think before you purchase, research other sites and question if the offer might just be too good to be true. It’s much safer to visit websites directly and ensure the site you’re visiting has a padlock symbol in the address bar, and the website address starts with https.

Sites like Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace might look like you’re getting a bargain, but scammers can often set up fake accounts which can mean that you’ll never receive the goods. If you’re buying through these sites, make sure the transaction takes place in person, so you can inspect the goods and decide if they’re worth paying for.

Make your payments securely

When buying gifts online (or making any purchase), use secure payment methods such as PayPal, BPAY or your credit card. If anything goes wrong, there may be schemes in place, such as Visa Zero Liability, to get your money back. If you’re asked to make a payment by direct bank deposit, money transfers or Bitcoin, be alert – this is usually one of the warning signs you’re being scammed.

Hold onto your receipts and regularly check your bank statements for signs of unusual activity.

Watch out for phishing schemes

These guys never give up, not even over the holidays, and this is when the chances of receiving suspicious emails and SMS messages are especially high. Never click on a link in an SMS or email requesting personal information, ESPECIALLY your internet banking details. The same goes for unsolicited phone calls. We’ll never ask for this information in this way.

Beware old fashioned theft

It’s easy to assume most theft or fraud crimes happen online these days. But opportunistic thieves still prey on the bustle of the festive shopping period. If you’re out shopping, make sure your purse or wallet is zipped up, and never leave it unattended in your shopping trolley.

If you’re using an ATM, cover your PIN and ensure your personal safety when withdrawing cash. Don’t forget, you can withdraw cash fee-free at most major bank ATMs around the country.

Stay safe

The festive season is a time of giving and sharing – but this also makes it easier for fraudsters and scam artists to prey on your generosity.

Use these tips to know the signs of an offer that is too good to be true, to make sure you don’t risk someone else doing all your Christmas spending for you.

For more information, visit ScamWatch or Stay Smart Online.

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