In today’s blog we look at cyber security week tips number 5 and 6:
Tip 5 : Take care when buying online – research the supplier and use a safe payment method
We literally have the world at our fingertips when it comes to buying online, so never before has the saying “buyer beware” been more important. It is possible to set up an online shop in just a few minutes these days, so you might find that there are many websites which are not the real deal, but are scams designed to separate you and your hard earned money.
The reasons why we shop online are numerous: to save money, to save time because we can shop any time of the day or night, because we can compare goods or to find items that are hard to get, or not sold locally. We can shop for travel, for toys, for better interest rates, for loans, for health products. The list goes on and on.
In this blog I will hopefully be able to outline some of the issues you should be wary of when shopping online, so that you are able to make better choices. The absolute top tip I can give you is to RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH. Often if something sounds too good to be true – there will be a catch or a problem with quality or even actually ever seeing the goods arrive. Make sure you follow the earlier tips and keep virus software and operating systems up to date before you start buying online.
What can go wrong: Fraud through making payments through unsecured sites; The site may be fake, the goods or services you order online may not live up to the advertisement, goods may never arrive.
How to stay safe: Shop via recommendations – word of mouth is still a great way to rely on the quality of a retailer. If the retailer is not a known name, research on the web looking for information. Do they have a listed address, email and telephone numbers?
Using a credit card is safer than any other type of payment as credit cards have some protection against fraud, misuse and non delivery of goods.
Don’t put money directly into another person’s account when purchasing online, but use a secure site such as Paypal.
Check out the returns and refunds policy before you buy.
Make sure the website you are purchasing from is secure. A padlock should appear in the actual browser window (not just on the website) and the address should be https:// not http:// (the s means ‘secure’).
Log out of shopping sites, don’t just close the browser window.
Travel & Accomodation: Beware of being ripped off by fake travel and accommodation sites and fake holiday prize scams.
What can go wrong? Worst case scenario is that you arrive at your destination to find your accomodation doesn’t exist, or there is no record of your flights. Other issues can be that accommodation is not the standard advertised or there are many hidden fees which were not obvious when booking was made. Beware of offers and deals that require a deposit to be paid to secure, you may never see that money (or the accomodation) again.
Staying safe: As we have mentioned with shopping, ensure any sites are secure and show a padlock in the brower window. Do not forget – the R word is so important. RESEARCH. Check out the site, are they reputable? Does the company belong to a recognised travel authority? Read the small print. Check and recheck dates and times, airports etc BEFORE you pay. Keep copies of all documents. If you are going to rent a private apartment, make sure that you speak with the owner – be sure that the apartment is actually available for rental and is not fraudently listed – do make background checks.
Auction Sites: Sites which allow you to buy and sell goods such as eBay are very popular, particularly with the youth market.
What can go wrong: Fake sites, products delivered are not what was promised, no returns or difficulty in returning or obtaining refunds for faulty products, products themselves are copies, your profile or financial information may be stolen, if you are the seller, make sure you have received money before despatching and preferrably use registered mail so that you can confirm delivery. Scam emails often appear to come from valid sites. Never use a link in an email to change a password or provide personal information. If you do get such an email and think it is real, simply go to your actual account and change password there.
Staying safe: Don’t share your account or password with friends. Double check what you are ordering before finalising the purchase. Check the buyer or seller reputation, look for feedback (although beware that sometimes feedback can be fake as well). Ignore requests to close auctions early. Follow suggestions under shopping also.
Health & Medicinal Products: The area of health is probably one of the fastest growing online and because of the nature of health, it is an area particularly prone to ripoffs and false claims.
What can go wrong? Ingredients may be substandard or not to Australian standards; ingredients may actually be quite dangerous with uncontrolled quantities or use of substances that are banned or are poisonous (such as rat poison and borax). Ingredients listed may or may not be present. Some products may be a risk to health and life. Promises of “cures” which prey on the vulnerable but are false. Claims made may be completely inaccurate. No control over where ingredients are actually being sourced or under what types of controls or hygiene/safety. Often websites selling items such as weight loss pills will fraudently continue to charge a credit card on a regular basis, for small amounts which may go unnoticed for a time. Sites are often not secure.
Staying safe: Exercise extreme caution. Again do your research. Health products appeal to our desire to feel better, look better and cure ourselves of problems, and often these emotions stop us from thinking and analysing what we are buying. Be wary of claims of “cures” and “instant results”. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure that supplements you have purchased online do not interfer with any medications you are currently on. Check that the seller is a legitimate business, with contact numbers and ABN . Never try and diagnose yourself and do not allow others to attempt to diagnose a problem if they are not a registered health practioner. If you do purchase medications or supplements online and you feel ill or have any symptoms which start occuring whilst taking them, see your doctor immediately and take the product with you so that the ingredients can be checked. If ingredients are NOT listed on the container, they are not meeting Australian requirements and may pose a significant risk to your health.
Tip 6 Only download “apps” from reputable publishers and read all permission requests
This is one area I’ve blogged about a few times now and also cover in my book “Futureproof your kids”. It is very important area to consider.
What can go wrong: Viruses or malware may be loaded onto your device during upgrades or transfer of data. Identity theft through programs which are working in the background. Hidden costs from “offers to upgrade” and add ons . Mobile device battery life decreases, unsolicted text messages which have a charge linked to them. A virus may sit on the device and transfer to your computer when you connect them to sync.
Staying safe: Only download and purchase apps from known stores. Be very wary of android apps as these are more susceptible to virus and malware. Keep your mobile device operating system up to date.
iRespectOnline and Social Ediquette have joined forces to create some great handy tip sheets. You can download these free sheets from our website under Resources.
Fiona Lucas is the founder of iRespectOnline. She is passionate about helping small businesses to grow, thrive and build reputation online. Fiona is an ethical marketer providing bespoke online marketing strategies to enable businesses to leverage social media for growth. Underpinning everything she does, as Australia’s first online reputation evangelist she is passionate about driving social change towards a more respectful online environment.
She was named in Mamamia’s Top 50 women to watch online 2013, Finalist Geelong Small Business Awards 2017 – Social Media Influencer and is a virtual community manager for Social Media Marketing World. Fiona presents on digital futures, cybersafety and digital marketing.
Fiona is the author of Futureproof Your Kids – a parents guide to the social media playground.