I know for some it is too soon to be even thinking about ‘that’ festive season even though it’s just under 4 weeks away but please, stop moaning! It’s the season to be jolly, isn’t it?
I know I know, the Christmas music blaring out already in every shop you go in; the aisles in your normal supermarket moved around to accommodate the seasonal goods so you can’t find what you are looking for, the staff wearing their elf jumpers and Christmas hats … just stop a minute and think what its like for them! Having to listen to the same tracks over and over again, trying to smile at the same question over and over again … arrghhh I just couldn’t do it. Kudos to them all.
The Guv’nor himself here at Connect-it is a bit of a ‘bah humbug’ when it comes to Christmas. Someone mentioned Christmas decorations and well, you would have thought we had scalded him with hot water!
‘Decorations’, he said, ‘Yes’ said Jinny. ‘No’ said the Guv’nor. ‘Why’ said Jinny. ‘Because I don’t want the office looking like Father Christmas’s Grotto’ said the Guv’nor. ‘OK’ said Jinny.
Defeat? No! We got that wink, you know the one that says, don’t worry, we will do it when he isn’t looking. Jinny, the bag with the tree and the tinsel is under my desk …
Funny thing though, when we mentioned an office Secret Santa his eyes lit up …
Talk in the office has been centred around Fraud over Christmas. So many of us have succumbed to online shopping, either through lack of time or just because the choice is often better and cheaper. But because of that, Fraud is rife. Especially now where we are in an age of using our mobiles for payment at the checkout terminals. It is far too easy to lose a phone and then find you have lost a shed load of money.
Research shows that people between 16 and 34 are most at risk due to their lack of attention to using secure sites to purchase from. They see something, like it, buy it…enter their card details without checking if the site is secure. All websites should be secure but more often than not are not. Last week once our new web site was up and running and almost there with all the glitches, we noticed ours was not secure … well, the Guv’nor very quickly got on top of that and within 24 hours, we were once again secure.
Most victims are targeted on online marketplace sites (source) . There was a reported loss of almost £16m last year, which is 45% on the previous year. Scary. But you can take measures to try and ‘fraud-proof your shopping experience over this busy period.
Top ten tips for a safe and happy festive season online
1. SHOP, SHOP, SHOP?
If something seems too much of a bargain, it’s probably poor quality or doesn’t even exist. Always check that payment pages are secure, and log out when you’ve finished shopping online.
2. AUCTION BARGAIN … OR NOT?
When making a purchase from an auction website, use insured payment methods like PayPal and never do a bank transfer to people you don’t know. Do all you can to check the seller or buyer are authentic. And look out for fake goods: they’re illegal and cost livelihoods.
3. JUST THE TICKET
Buying gig or event tickets as a gift, or for yourself? To avoid fraud, buy only from official sources, and never pay by direct transfer.
4. COME FLY AWAY…
Whether you’re planning a break at Christmas or next year, make sure the holiday or flight is genuine by researching it thoroughly, and check travel agents for an ABTA/ATOL number.
5. WHO’S ASKING?
Scam emails, calls, texts and posts are getting cleverer and you’re bound to get some over Christmas. Think twice before you get talked into anything, however busy you are.
6. YOUR PASSWORD IS YOURS. KEEP IT THAT WAY!
Passwords that are easy to guess, that you use for more than one account or that you share with others, are a no-no!
7. SECURELY CONNECTED?
Secure Wi-Fi is vital for your privacy. At home, check your router security settings. Out and about, never use free Wi-Fi hotspots when what you’re doing is private.
8. GREAT OFFER, OR SUBSCRIPTION TRAP?
Don’t sign up for ‘free’ or ‘low-cost’ trial goods without thoroughly reading the small print. You could be signing up for massive direct debits.
9. SEASON’S GREETINGS
Don’t open attachments or click on links in festive (or any other) emails you’re not expecting, as they could be scams. And be careful with e-cards as they can be fraudulent too.
10. AVOID THOSE NASTY CHRISTMAS VIRUSES
And we don’t mean coughs and colds! Always have internet security (antivirus) software and apps switched on and updated.
Enjoy a stress-free, safe shopping trip………. Mine’s a Baileys please.
I am sure there are plenty of other tips we could all think of to safeguard our money, business and information today. Fraud is a full-time business for some criminals, so we constantly have to be one step ahead – which is another full-time job itself. All we must do is think smart before we act. We don’t need to be a techno wiz (although that does help from time to time); a lot of what we need to do is common sense but that goes out the window when we are busy.
So think twice before you buy…..a bit like the road crossing advert from back in the day……..or was that think bike…….humm, not sure now!
Have a great day and be smart!