Top tips to shop safely over the holidays

Advice to keep you cyber secure when shopping online

In our rapidly evolving digital world where online transactions have become a part of our daily lives, cyber safety and security have never been more critical. As the holiday season approaches, retailers expect strong sales during the holiday season. Unfortunately, it’s also a key time for cybercriminals to target seasonal shoppers.

Cybercriminals employ many techniques, ranging from phishing emails to sophisticated hacking attempts, taking advantage of individuals who are not adequately protected. As technology advances, so do the tactics of these cybercriminals, making it crucial for consumers to stay ahead of the game.

With our ongoing commitment to enhance cyber safety awareness we, together with our partner CyberScout, have created top tips to help keep your sensitive information safe as you shop online this holiday season.

1. Avoid online shopping scams

Staying vigilant while shopping online can help reduce the chance of identity thieves gaining access to your personal information. Before clicking a link, pay attention to where it is taking you. Hover your mouse pointer over hyperlinks to verify the actual URL, and don’t click any URLs or addresses that don’t match what you would expect for a retailer.

2. Be wary of promises of hard-to-find items

Cybercriminals often promise to sell hard-to-get gifts to attract victims. They’ll frequently offer them on online marketplaces on social media where they can take your payment and send nothing in return. If you must buy from an online marketplace, investigate the seller’s background as much as possible. Make sure they have an established history on the platform and solid ratings from past shoppers.

3. Watch out for fake emails and text messages

Often, fraudsters who claim to be from popular shipping and delivery companies send messages. If you receive this kind of message, do not click on any links or call any phone numbers included in the message. Instead, reach out to the retailer or shipping company directly to ask if an update about your delivery is legitimate.

4. Be aware of fake pleas for charity

Scammers may try to take advantage of your generosity by soliciting for charities that sound familiar but aren’t real or don’t do what they claim to. Be sure to only give to established charities or groups whose work you know and trust.

5. Review offers carefully

Many businesses have loyalty offers during the holidays, but attackers often mimic these emails with scams. Remember that if something seems too good to be true, it usually is. Be sure to search the internet about the offer to see if it has been reported as fake. You’d be surprised at how many of these offers get repeated even after being reported.

6. Secure your payments

Even when you’ve researched a seller, things can go wrong. Make sure you protect yourself by paying for your holiday gifts in a safe, secure way. Payment apps, cheques or bank transfers shouldn’t be used unless you personally know the seller.

7. Monitor your accounts, credit and identity

Once you put the holiday decorations away, you still need to be vigilant to ensure your information is safe. Tracking your banking and credit card accounts to ensure your finances are in order is always recommended.

8. Adopt strong security practices

While threat activity may increase during the holidays, cyber threats exist all year. Following the standard recommendations for better security – strengthening your passwords, keeping software updated and not clicking on unknown links or opening unexpected attachments – can help keep you safe now and in the future.

By implementing these proactive measures and remaining vigilant, you can create a robust defence against cyber threats. Together with CyberScout, we are committed to ensuring your cyber safety and making your online shopping experiences secure and worry-free.

As well as providing Personal Cyber cover for our Bespoke Insurance customers, we have created a hub of information to help keep you safe online. Take a look here

Expert help whenever you need it from your personal cyber security team

Want to learn more about how to prevent a cyber incident? Looking for a second opinion on a suspicious call or email? Need immediate support in the event of a cyber attack?

If you’re a NFU Mutual Bespoke Home Insurance policy holder, NFU Mutual Bespoke Cyber Assistance Helpline, administered by CyberScout, can offer advice and guidance and access to cyber experts and fraud specialists.

You’ve got 24/7 access, 363 days a year** - just call the Helpline and have your NFU Mutual Bespoke policy number to hand.

Helpline number: 0800 138 8211

*Terms and conditions apply

**Closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day