At Geek-Guru, we’re really invested in helping to keep our clients and readers safe – the best all round advice we can give is to stay aware when it comes to online purchases and your safety and security. No one wants to think that they’ll be a target, but the real truth is that it can happen to anyone, no matter who or where they are.
As well as personal and shopping scams, business-related scams are also on the rise again this year, with the government’s advice to work from home being used a target point for fraudsters and scammers the world over. As we mentioned earlier in the year, the best way to keep your colleagues and systems safe is to follow the instructions given to you by your IT team, to keep your systems and software up to date and protected, and to question any emailed links or files that arrive in your inbox or in your messages on platforms like Teams. Many of the methods used to hack or scam businesses start off as an email link or a file sent to a user – which, when opened or visited, then exploits a weakness or security flaw gives the hackers and scammers a back door into your machine or network.
If you’re not expecting a link or a file from someone, it’s worth double-checking to make sure they actually sent it.
As for personal scams – no one wants to be scammed at Christmastime, but it still happens because people are looking for the best deals or to save their hard-earned cash, or are willing to pay over the odds to questionable people or websites for a chance to get an item that’s in short supply (such as toys or games consoles).
Purchase only from reputable retailers, double check for the padlock icon in your browser to make sure any payment details are transmitted securely – and if you’re buying from another individual, use a payment platform like PayPal to make the payment – avoid cash or direct bank transfers. Stick to sites like eBay who have systems in place to reduce the amount of scams, and to support buyers should anything happen.
Delivery scams are also a huge problem this time of the year – with people receiving packages from all over the world, some of them they might not expect. Still, it is worth reiterating that it’s very rare for a company like Royal Mail, DPD or Hermes to send an unsolicited text message asking for payment. If you receive a text message or email like this, search for customer support numbers online or navigate to the company’s website yourself (not via any links) to confirm that the parcel is legitimate. Ask your friends and family to notify you if they are sending a parcel and to give you a tracking number or tell you what company they have used to send it – the gift itself can still be a surprise!
Of course, we’d like to remind all our readers of the old adage: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is!