How to protect yourself while shopping online this festive season:

numbers_circle.gifThe world has always been a dangerous place, even back when the dinosaurs were ruling the roost. However, the internet makes the world about 10x more lethal than it has ever been, no thanks to the likes of hackers, and mainly, fraudsters.

Fraud is on the high here in the UK, proven by research that has found out that British online shoppers have been victims of fraud totalling £1.5bn in the past twelve months – and sadly, it doesn’t look like anything is going to change anytime soon.

This research has been conducted by Barclays and Kaspersky Lab, who also found out that more than four million people here in the UK have fallen into the cruel hands of fraudsters since last December, with an average personal loss of £371 per incident. This is a lot of money to lose, and Cyber Monday as they now call it (December 2nd), could be a field day for online criminals, as 33.6 million people are predicted to start planning and purchasing their Christmas gifts on this date.

Whilst online shopping is now seen as a huge part of British culture, where people are expected to be cautious of the dark side of the net, there are still plenty naïve consumers who could be at risk of being conned, with over a quarter (27 per cent) admitting that they don’t take enough care online.

And to prevent the festive period from being an unhappy time, Barclays and Kaspersky Lab are urging the nation to be careful when purchasing online and to pay greater attention to their internet security.

Alex Grant, Managing Director, Fraud Prevention at Barclays, said: “As the number of people shopping online is set to peak this Monday – with 33.6 million of us planning to do our shopping on the web this Christmas – cyber-criminals will have a field day if precautions aren’t taken. Our research has shown that internet shoppers will be faced with a high level of threat to their personal and

Barclays are taking the whole sentiment to the next level by offering up the award-winning Kaspersky Internet Security Suite, Kaspersky Mobile Security Suite and Kaspersky Anti-Virus for Mac free of charge to all its Online and Mobile Banking customers.

Top tips on how to protect yourself whilst shopping online this festive season:

1. Keep contact details up to date: ensure your bank has up-to-date mobile/telephone contact numbers for you so they can speak to you if they spot unusual or suspicious activity on your account.

2. Get up to date security software: make sure your computer and your web-enabled phone are protected with up-to-date internet security software.

3. Look for the ‘S’: only ever access your internet banking or shopping sites by typing the address into your browser – never go to a website from a link in an email and then enter personal details. Always ensure when transacting online that the URL starts HTTPS rather than HTTP, or has the gold padlock icon, and use only official apps for mobile banking.

4. Treat all unsolicited emails with caution: don’t click on links or open attachments in emails you weren’t expecting or are not sure about.

5. Use strong passwords: passwords should have a mix of letters (upper and lower case) numbers and symbols -avoid obvious things like your name, birthday or phone number that others can guess.

6. Be cautious with online auctions: for higher value items, such as cars and other vehicles, try to see the items before sending any money and always use the insured methods of payment for the internet site rather than direct payments to a seller. Log out after shopping and save the confirmation email as a record of your purchase, and make sure you have registered your cards with Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode.