In the rush to buy Christmas gifts online, security awareness often is disregarded and hackers are waiting to take advantage. Hidden among the countless emails sent by retailers to inform past customers of the most recent special offers and deals are a great many holiday season email scams. To an unskilled eye, these scam emails seem to be no different from those sent by authentic retailers. Then there are the phishing websites that record details and credit card numbers and websites hosting exploit kits that silently install malware.  It is a dangerous time to be using the Internet for shopping.

However if you are careful, you can avoid holiday season email scams, phishing websites, and malware this Christmas. To help you avoid strife, we have gathered some tips to avoid holiday season email scams, phishing websites and malware this festive season.

Guidelines to Stay Safe This Holiday Season

In the days before Christmas there will be scams aplenty. To stay safe online, remember the following:

Carefully check the URL of websites before parting with your card details every time

Spoofed websites often look just like like the genuine sites that they mimic. They use the same background and style, the same imagery, and the same branding as retail sites. The only thing not the same is the URL. Before filling in your card details or parting with any sensitive data, review the URL of the site and make sure you are not on a spoofed website.

Never permit retailers to hold your card details for future transactions

It is a service that makes for swift purchases. Sure, it is a pain to have to enter your card details each time you want to buy something, but by taking an extra minute to enter your card details each time you will reduce the chance of your account being emptied by scammers. Cyberattacks on retailers are common, and SQL injection attacks can give hackers access to retailer’s websites – and a treasure trove of stored credit card numbers.

Crazy deals are normally just that

You may find out that you have won a PlayStation 4 or the latest iPhone in a competition. While it is possible that you may have won a prize, it doubtful that this will happen if you haven’t actually entered a prize draw. Similarly, if you are offered a 50% discount on a purchase through email, there is a high probability that is a scam. Scammers take advantage of the fact that everyone loves a deal, and never more so than during holiday period.

If you purchase online, use your credit card

Avoid the holiday season crowds and buy presents online, but use your credit card for purchases instead of a debit card.  If you have been captured in a holiday season scam or your debit card details are stolen from a retailer, it is highly unlikely that you be able to recuperate stolen funds. With a credit card, you have better security measures and getting a refund is much more likely.

never Visit HTTP sites

Websites secured by the SSL protocol are safer. If a website address begins with HTTPS it means the connection between your browser and the website is encrypted. It makes it much more difficult for sensitive data to be intercepted. Never hand over your credit card details on a website that does not begin with HTTPS.

Carefully Check of order and delivery confirmations

If you order over the Internet, you will no doubt want to look over the status of your order and find out when your purchases will be delivered. If you your sent an email with tracking information or a delivery confirmation, treat the email as potentially dangerous. Always go to the delivery company’s website by entering in the URL into your browser, rather than visiting links sent through email. Fake delivery confirmations and parcel tracking links are common. The links can bring you to phishing websites and sites that install malware, while email attachments often contain malware and ransomware installers.

Holiday season is a hectic, but be careful online

One of the chief factor in holiday season being successful for email scams is because people are in a hurry and do not take the time to read emails carefully and check attachments and links are authentic. Scammers take advantage of busy individuals. Look over the destination URL of any email link before you click. Take time to consider things prior to taking any action online or respond to an email request.

Have different passwords for different websites

You may decide to purchase all of your Christmas gifts on Amazon, but if you need to sign up[ for a number of different multiple sites, never sue the same password for these websites. Password reuse is one of the main ways that hackers can capture access details for your social media networks and bank accounts. If there is a data breach at one retailer and your password is taken illegally, hackers will attempt to use that password on lots of other platforms.