It was about this time last year that I seriously started thinking about Christmas. I wish I could say that I was preoccupied with the birth of Christ and the wonderful truth about Salvation, but I wasn’t. I was considering all my nieces and nephews and wondering what presents to get them for Christmas. I must admit, I felt rather pressured and wondered for the umpteenth time why the lead up to Christmas was always such a busy and stressful time.
Most of us spend a lot of our time around Christmas in the shops, either shopping for presents or food, or taking advantage of the January sales. There is a lot said about the commercialisation of Christmas, but the reality is that most people are under some kind of pressure to hit the shops. If you are one of these people, you may have discovered, along with over 26 million other Britons, that shopping online is easier, quicker, sometimes cheaper and more convenient than going out to the shops. Shopping online is on the increase. In the UK alone, an average of £3.89 billion was spent shopping online in September 2009 . But online fraud is also on the increase, with £134m fraud losses in the first six months of 2009 . So what is it you need to know before you start browsing for bargains?
1. Ensure that your computer has up to date anti-virus software. You should also switch on your computer’s firewall if you have this installed.
2. Use a secure browser to access the internet. The most commonly used browsers are Internet Explorer (Windows), Firefox (open source) and Safari (Apple). Ensure that you have the latest version uploaded and download the security updates.
3. Always type the address of the shop directly into your browser. If you arrived at the shop via a price comparison website or cash back website, ensure that the address in the browser matches the shop address. Avoid accessing online shops via links from emails, especially if it is an unsolicited email or you do not know the sender.
4. Look out for signs that tell you that the payment web page is protected. The web page address should start with https://…. not http. The extra “s” tells you that it is a secure web page. Also look out for icons in the browser navigation bar such as locked padlock or unbroken key symbol which tell you that the website is secure.
5. Do not enter personal data on websites with expired security certification. Your browser will normally open an extra warning window when you access a web page with an expired security certificate.
6. Shop with companies you are familiar with and if in doubt, check the company data. By law, companies must have their registration number and legal information on the site. Remember, you can always call the company and verify its legitimacy.
7. There are a few accreditation logos for internet safety, but if a retailer does not have any accredited logos, this does not make it a fraudulent company, particularly if it is a small business. One of the more common logos is the ISIS logo (Internet Shopping Is Safe). Still, do not take any logos for granted, check each logo link.
8. Register your card with Verified by visa or MasterCard SecureCode, but do not write down your password or disclose it to anyone.
9. Pay with a credit card. Your credit card provider is jointly liable along with the retailer for any breach in contract under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. For this to apply, the goods purchased must be more than £100 and less than £30,000. This means that you can get your money back from your credit card provider. Note that this does not cover debit card or charge card purchases.
10. Print and keep the information about your online order. Most companies will send an order confirmation by email. Ensure you provide an accurate email address when giving your personal details. Also make a note of your order number and any other information provided about your order
11. Once you are done shopping, remember to log out of the website instead of just closing the window. This is especially important if you are using a shared computer.
Online shopping definitely has some strong benefits. You can compare prices, use discount vouchers and get cash back from purchases. It can even take away some of the stresses of shopping such as carrying bulky purchases and travelling to and from shops. Online shopping can save you a lot of time, giving you more time to celebrate Jesus as the reason for the season.
For our online solutions, see Keno’s company website at www.spiralwebsolutions.com