By Jessica Patchett, Education and Awareness Specialist  

We all love a bargain, and what better time of the year to bag a few than just before Christmas.  

However, it does seem like the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales get earlier and earlier each year.  

Unfortunately, the increase in offers and sales provides an opportunity for criminals to take advantage. Our inboxes are full of promotional offers and we’re likely to be a little less suspicious as we’re expecting (and hoping for) the best discount possible.  

These scams can be crafty and even the sharpest shoppers can fall victim to them. So, to help keep you safe online, we’ve put together our top tips on shopping securely.  

Keep your devices up to date 

It might be a little inconvenient to be without your device for a few minutes whilst it updates, however it’s essential as they often contain crucial security updates. Where possible, turn on automatic updates so that you don’t have to worry. 

In the excitement of receiving a top offer, don’t forget that some links can take you to malicious websites that are designed to steal your personal information – including bank details! If you’re unsure, type the shop’s website address into your search bar, or find the website through a search engine (such as Google, Bing etc).   

Secure your accounts  

When it comes to passwords, think long and strong. Try creating your next password from three random words, this is referred to as a passphrase. Make a particular effort when it comes to your email password. If a criminal gets their hands on your email account, they can reset your passwords for other accounts and access personal information that you may have stored.  

Enable two-factor authentication (2FA)  

Enabling 2FA means that, even if a criminal cracks your password, they’d need to get hold of a separate token or code to be able to gain access. Find instructions for how to enable 2FA on various accounts here. 

When handing over your money, be careful not to transfer your personal information too

Only provide the minimum amount of information required when completing a purchase. An easy way to do this is to check out as a guest where possible. 

What if things go wrong? 

We’re all human, and this time of year can be busy and stressful. If things go wrong, or something just doesn’t feel right, contact Action Fraud as well as your bank.  

Well, now you’re clued up on shopping securely, go forth and get yourself a bargain! Remember to share these tips with your family and friends.