Online Shoppers Get Help On Busiest Christmas Shopping Day

eWEEK Europe UK editor, Peter Judge, warns online shoppers to be 'on their guard'. Monday 7 December is set to be the most lucrative online shopping day in the UK, and could also be the biggest for online fraud - so organisations have lined up t

Monday 7 December is set to be the most lucrative online shopping day in the UK, and could also be the biggest for online fraud - so organisations have lined up to help keep shoppers safe.

"Online shopping continues to grow, and sites expect to take $417 million* on that day alone," says Peter Judge, UK editor of eWEEK Europe ( "It's a good way to get bargains, have a less stressful Christmas, and maybe reduce the carbon footprint of your shopping trips. But fraudsters are also ready - to spring their traps on the unwary."

The danger is that unwary consumers will use unsafe sites and allow cheats to harvest their personal details, if they let their guard down during the festive season - and consumers new to online shopping may be particularly at risk. Already, the UK has one third more victims of fraud in 2009 than in 2008, according to a survey by fraud prevention service CIFAS.

Most Britons don't know how to look after themselves online, according to the BCS (the Chartered Institute for IT), which announced a Savvy Citizens campaign in November.

"We hope to demonstrate the power and benefits of online services," Elizabeth Sparrow, president of BCS, told eWEEK. The campaign hopes to get digital refuseniks onto public services, but eWEEK Europe thinks its advice on safe shopping will be equally welcome in the season of gratuitous consumption.

Services provider Unisys has brought out a checklist of ten ways to beat the cheats - which boil down to one thing. "The cardinal rule is don't be too trusting," said Neil Fisher, vice president of global security solutions at Unisys. That means using safe sites, reading feedback about sellers on sites like eBay, and looking for the padlock icon on the bottom of the browser.

One item many people forget is to use a credit card rather than a debit card - as the credit card will have extra consumer protection.

And another thing is always check the web address of any page you are using. Sneaky fraudsters are registering sites within the Cameroon top level domain (".cm"), making it the riskiest web domain in the world according to security firm McAfee. The risk may be that sites with a .cm address look like similar innocuous sites in the .com domain. However, checking the top-level domain alone won't be enough, as .com itself is the second riskiest top-level domain, says McAfee.

Finally, Unisys' Fisher is the one to take the risk of sounding like Scrooge, with an instruction to bin Christmas e-cards. His issue is not that they are pointless humbug. Far more seriously, e-cards are a potent source of malware, and may include .exe files which could install Trojans on users' machines.


Useful links:

* Kelkoo research suggests online sites will take £417 million on the 7 December.


Tags: online fraud, online shopping, security

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